Fall is without a doubt my favorite season. Yes, I very much enjoy the apples, hayrides, and just about anything pumpkin flavored, but my favorite thing to do is sit outside in the afternoon with a good book. There’s just something about sitting beneath the dome of a clear blue autumn sky enveloped in the perfect balance crisp air and warm sun.
And of course, there are the trees. As I sat outside one afternoon, I just stared up into the trees, thinking about how they change so much over the course of four seasons. Most of the time, I hardly notice them. But in the fall, they demand my attention.
Who can ignore the magnificent hues of yellow, orange, and red – glorious brushstrokes from the hand of The Creator?
But why? Why didn’t God create leaves to appear as brightly colored buds unfolding on trees in the spring? Why are they so beautiful in the fall?
I learned on a recent field trip with my son that leaves are brilliantly colored all year long, but those colors are masked by the green chlorophyll they produce. When the leaves stop producing food, their underlying colors are revealed and the leaves are no longer needed. You see, the tree actually makes the leaves fall off. If the leaves don’t die and fall off, the whole tree will die.
The leaves are beautiful because they are dying.
The leaves must die to self. I must die to self. And it’s a hard, beautiful thing.
Jesus, The Gardner of my Soul, carefully chooses the right season to remove the parts of me that are no longer bearing fruit. It’s an agonizing struggle sometimes, this battle between the flesh and the soul. It’s less of me and more of Him. The necessary changing of myself as one color fades to reveal another. Red, orange and yellow…the colors of fire…The Refiner’s Fire. The sheer beauty of becoming more like Jesus. And yes, change can be painful, and it’s not easy, but it’s beautiful…..oh so beautiful.
On this road less traveled, I am learning to embrace these seasons of pruning and refining. When I want to cling to myself like a leaf to a branch, The Gardener gently whispers, It’s ok…let it go. When I trust Jesus and let that part of myself go, it’s life-changing. And I realize all the more that dying to self could be one of the most beautiful things I’ll ever do.