Mesmerized. The word that seems to fit me best when the leaves begin to change color. My husband’s voice broke through my enchantment as he tried to get a word in to our “barely-breathe-when-talking daughter.”
“In the fall” he began, “the leaves show their true colors Madigan. They can’t be hidden behind all the green chlorophyll they had during the summer.”
As we drove down familiar country roads, normal sights changed to divine observations as the landscape projected gold, orange, and crimson nature across the background of a sky-blue canvas. My daughter pretended to take pictures with her fingers while I literally took them with my phone. “True colors” echoed in my thoughts.
“You see Maddie, the branches are attached to the tree, and the leaves to the branches,” he continued.”Then as the leaves turn colors, they also form a cork-like substance on the base of the leaf. That’s what separates them from the branch and they fall to the ground.” Separation from the branch…
Just as most of us become incredible singers in the shower, I wax poetic every fall in my head. I meditate on everything from the green masks of the leaves, to the glory of God’s creation, to the particular beauty that can come with death. But this year, with the change in my own season, my true colors have come to the surface in a myriad of ways.
I told my husband, “I have never been more in touch with my flesh than I am now!” I thought fasting from food showed me how loud and obnoxious my flesh was…but it’s nothing in comparison to chronic pain unmasked by medication. True colors of “the fall”(Genesis 3) have emerged at certain times in my personality…the reds of anger and frustration, the yellows of fear and worry, the dark browns of sorrow or disappointment. Then, if I allow it, a cork-like substance can begin to grow in my thoughts when I rehearse the reality of sleeplessness, weariness, unanswered prayers, doubts, and the abominable self-pity. All of these and more can begin to separate my heart from The Branch (Isaiah 11:1) if I’m not careful.
It was when I read a children’s science book that showed how the bright reds and purples that are seen in the most beautiful leaves are NOT a leaf’s true colors. These eye-catchers, like maple leaves, are made by glucose being trapped in the leaves and the combination of sunlight and cool nights turn them brilliant red. The reflection of a sweetness made by mixing the sun with a cold environment.
So I pray this morning, “Lord, You have said that I have this treasure of Yourself in an earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). Since the grace-filled chlorophyll of godly fellowship, Bible studies, church events, and conferences, have been withdrawn for now, may the bright light of Your countenance, the Sun that arises with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2), shine across my heart. Could the warmth of Your Son mix with the cold found in a doctor’s office, or the frosted resistance in the world, or amidst the passing chills from pain’s solitude, and be converted into a sweet reflection of Who Jesus is to others around me? And when I am alone, could you fill my soul with the sweet aroma of worship and prayer, whether by mouth or heart, and have it ascend past the sky-blue canvas, right to the feet that once were covered with the contents of an alabaster box?”
I ended my prayer and shamefully confess, sometimes I pray things that sound good to my flesh, but I don’t fully believe that God will actually answer it. I never fully realize that I do this unless the Holy Spirit stops me or speaks to me in some way. A couple of hours later, the Lord did speak to me.
He reminded me of going outside this spring with my little girl and raking all of the dead leaves off of the gardens and places where perennial flowers and plants were already peaking through with new life. She picked up one dead, decrepit, ugly old leaf and said “Mommy! Isn’t this one beautiful?! This one is my treasure.” I shrugged my shoulders and smiled and kept raking. When we went inside, she put the leaf on the table and asked me to admire it with her. I was having all kinds of trouble admiring it, but she kept calling it beautiful.
I videotaped her precious words
And then I realized, there is a glorious beauty that comes from a Christian that emanates Jesus despite their cold, harsh, bone-chilling circumstances they may be in at the time. But it’s not for the golden smiles, the hues of patience, or crimson-type love that draws God’s love, blessing, and pleasure toward me. I am like that leaf in my daughter’s hand: aged, withered, brittle, dark spots across my character, and though not lifeless, apart from the Branch, I would be. But He calls me…us…His treasure. If a child can find beauty in the ugly, pluck one lone leaf out of a multitude and see its value, how much more the Creator in the creation? It’s ok to not be brilliant and colorful today…I’m resting in the hands that know my frailty and carry me so gently.
Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; and remembers that we are dust.”