Friday, September 23, 2011


      Autumn begins today, the most beautiful time of the year in my heart and mind.  The sky is never more blue, foliage takes on hues that only God could imagine and paint, and after a long, humid summer in the subtropics where we live, cool and dry air invigorates like His refreshing breath.
    The fall, however, also portends of winter to come, when much of creation will lie dormant until the spring.  Things, animals and people will die in the harsh months to come.  Autumn's blue skies, the changing of the leaves, and the bracing cold of the air tell us that such days are coming, and that somber realities accompany the loveliness of Fall.
    Two primary lessons present themselves in this beauty and death of the coming season.  First, we must enjoy the blessings of God in the realization that He is Himself the joy and fulfillment of every good gift.  The particular forms and expressions by which our Lord's goodness comes to us will all pass away in His time, and if we focus too much on the vessel of His blessing, we will not fully enjoy the Content of it.  We will find it difficult to overcome our losses if we forget that the greatest blessing of all good things is the Bless-er Himself.  This is a challenging truth to a human race of whom the Lord said, "Man looketh on the outward appearance" (I Samuel 16:7).  Nevertheless, this conviction must be embraced deeply within our hearts if we are to walk in God's abiding peace.  Things pass away in this present life. God does not.
    The beauty and death of autumn also teach us that many of God's greatest gifts in our present life come to us wrapped not in the pleasant, but in the painful.  As the late Alan Redpath once wrote, "Our blessings often come to us in our buffetings."  A fallen world makes this challenging way necessary, both for our personal growth in God's grace, and in our preparation to minister Christ unto others.  We discover that the Lord Jesus is loving enough, wise enough, strong enough, and present enough to keep our hearts even when they are broken.  Measures of His joy and peace are known that pleasant times could never reveal, and that reading and study can not fully illuminate.  Autumn speaks to us of this strange but wonderful Divine way of the Christian being "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).
    We will see beautiful things in the days to come.  Our hearts will rejoice.  We will also realize that the beauty is revealed in things that are dying.  Our hearts must take note.  Most of all, we will rejoice in the God who can somehow unite seemingly opposing realities in His loving purpose to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus.  The falling leaves of autumn that so beautifully die help to prepare spring for its resurrection and glory.  This is God's way in creation, and in our lives.

"As dying, and behold, we live."
(II Corinthians 6:9)

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