Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT) But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I’m sitting here in a rocking chair on my front porch witnessing the early signs of fall. The birds are singing, and there is a very light hint of coolness in the air. Brown leaves are already beginning to gather around the yard. The fruit tree leaves are rapidly changing from brilliant deep greens to golden yellow as they prepare to let go. We live in the middle of eighty park like acres, so as you can imagine, we have a lot of trees. Of all those trees, I have my one favorite little tree. It is a Japanese Maple that I bought as a little seedling many moons ago. When my husband and I married, we dug up that little tree and planted it in our front yard. It was supposed to be one of those maples with the beautiful, dark maroon leaves, but surprise…it did not grow into the tree that I planned it to be. It grew into one that is so much better. In the very earliest days of spring, little green leaves begin to develop and grow. Before long, the little maple is covered with beautiful green leaves and those leaves provide a much needed shade for the front yard and bring comfort for our morning porch sitting sessions. It really is a beautiful tree with all of those lovely green leaves, the branches stand high, reaching for the sky, boldly and beautifully. Yes, that little tree looks like it’s got it all together, but it doesn’t really begin to shine until it prepares to let go of its leaves. That sounds crazy, I know, but it is the truth. Every year, right before Thanksgiving, those pretty green leaves begin to turn, and for a few short weeks, that maple tree becomes the most beautiful fixture in our yard. The leaves gradually change into splendid shades of gold and orange. I marvel at the beauty of it every single year. I delight at looking at that tree when I drive up after a long day or even if I’m just sitting on the porch rocking. The marvelous beauty of the fall colors only last a few weeks though, and eventually that little maple tree stands there with its branches held high as though it was raising its arms to the sky, bare, empty, and colorless.
If I saw that tree during the winter season, I would have never wanted to bring it home. I would have thought that it was a sad, boring little tree. I would not have realized that a total transformation had recently occurred, and could not imagine the transformation that was soon to come when the spring season returned. We could learn a lot from this little tree. It doesn’t stubbornly hold on to its dead leaves. It drops them to the ground letting go of the old season of life while it anxiously awaits for the new season. Consider that for a moment. We also go through seasons of change, and the seasons change us. We can not cling to the past. We have to get rid of all the bitterness, anger, and every form of malice, and learn to be kind and compassionate to one and be forgiving just as Paul told the Ephesians. As humans we often want to hold on to the things of the past. We sometimes want to live in the past because we feel like those were the best times of our lives. Others want to forget the past because it felt like the worse time of their lives. It is okay to remember the past, rejoice in those fond memories and learn from the mistakes, but we can’t set up house there. That season has passed, we grew during that season, but we have to let those leaves fall. We can’t cling to the old leaves. They have to fall to the ground so that we can make room for the new season that is just around the corner.
That Japanese Maple is like a picture of what Jesus does in our lives. We go through all kinds of seasons. We start off tiny, weak and small, and we have no clue how we will look as we grow and mature. As kids, we develop dreams of who and what we will become, and before we know it, we are all grown up, and things don’t look anything like we thought they would. We aren’t doing what we had planned to do while we were still in our youth, but as we look within ourselves, we realize that we are so much better than what we dreamed of. We have survived many seasons. Some of those seasons were hard. We endured loss of loved ones, break ups, loneliness, financial strain, sickness, and grief. We may have fallen down, but we did not give up. We grew stronger in those seasons. The seasons changed us. We have also been through some really great seasons that were beautiful, bright, and marvelous that brought so much richness to our lives and the lives around us. Those seasons passed, and we recognized the beautiful changes that occurred as we grew in love, happiness, and grace. Sometimes, the Lord sends a season so that we have to make a change. We can’t remain the same. We may get complacent and lazy, and Jesus may send a new season to make us let go and let Him take the lead in our lives. He knows that there is strength in our branches. He wants us to look up to Him, let go of things that are not of Him, and see things in a new light and perspective.
When we get bogged down in the hard, winter seasons of life, and it feels like we have lost all of our brilliant color, and there is nothing left but the dull, gray branches reaching upward, it is then that we might just find ourselves right where the Lord wants us to be as He prepares us for the best season yet. We can always rest in the word of God. Just look at these words from the book of Isaiah, “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Christ is preparing you. He is getting you ready for a great work. He may be pruning you now, and pruning hurts, but the pruning will bring forth new vines and much fruit. Let it go, and let God take the lead. This year feels like it has been one very long season of fall….one great fall after the other…but the Master Gardener is working everything out for our good and His glory. Hang on. Enjoy the fall. Marvel at the changes that are occurring within you as our Lord prepares you for the next great season!