I love when the leaves change colors. It's a beautiful time of year. Last week I drove up and over High Point State Park and the colors were breathtaking. There was one spot with a view of a still lake with the trees in the background. On that lake a man was in a rowboat slowly gliding across the lake. It was truly picturesque. With all this beauty, it's also a reminder that there's lots of work to do now. Fall cleanup! Now, you'd think all the leaves would change color and lose all their leaves at the same time. However, I find it interesting that each tree is different in their own life cycle. In our yard, a lovely maple tree turned a gorgeous red and lost most of its leaves. The ornamental pear trees have only just begun to change from green to red. Our burning bushes have peaked and slowly begun losing their leaves. Some oak trees in the back lost all their leaves already and look dead. Still, we have some evergreens that just stay green and keep growing no matter the weather or season.
Do you ever wonder why the leaves change? Deciduous trees (you know--the ones with leaves) produce chlorophyll in the Spring and Summer that turns the leaves green so they can soak up as much sunlight and store as much energy as possible while the weather is ripe. As the days grow shorter and the air gets a little colder, the trees stop producing chlorophyll and the leaves are triggered to change color and drop. After the leaves drop, the tree looks empty and bare. They almost look dead, but they are far from it. There is life within them because of how God made them. They are simply withdrawing their energy from one season to weather the change of a new season.
It reminds me of how we go through life. We all have our own ways of responding to change or challenges. Some of us always look lively and growing, like the evergreen trees. Nothing seems to slow us down. Others of us go withdraw and reflect, feeling bare at times like those trees that lost their leaves. A season of blessing gives way to a season of difficulty and you don't quite feel like yourself anymore. This might be triggered by grief or loss, caring for family members, difficulty at work, relational problems. Sometimes we just feel like we're in a funk. I'm reminded of this verse from Isaiah 40:8 where it says, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Going through seasons of change--even really difficult ones--is part of our human lives. Churches go through seasons, schools go through seasons, families have seasons. In fact, God even uses these seasons for our growth as children called to glorify Him. But one thing that never changes is the Word of God which endures forever. That's part of the reason we read and memorize scripture--so in the times of joy and the times of sadness we remember who God is and what he says. He tells us that he is love and we are his children. He shows us how we can belong to him. He gives us hope for the future, and strength for today. It's the energy God gives us in one season to strengthen us through another season. So that no matter what, we can find hope in him. I think that's reason to give thanks for each blessing we do receive, rejoice always, and learn how to understand how to walk with each other in all seasons. Because God is with us and His Spirit lives within us no matter what.