Fall Colors in Nature and in Us

Fall colors

Fall…the time when (in places other than Florida!) nature dons flamboyant garb as God paints His world with vibrant colors. Lush, supple leaves in shades of green gradually change color until the green is just a memory, replaced by vivid red, yellow, and orange.

But where do the fall colors come from? What causes the bright transformation each year?

Actually, those other colors were there the whole time.

Remember middle school science class? Chlorophyll in the leaves creates the green color. Other chemicals, such as carotene, create orange, yellow, and red pigments. The other colors are always there. But the work of the chlorophyll overpowers those chemicals and conceals the additional hues.

Shorter days and cooler temperatures cause the chlorophyll in the leaves to break down. Since the chlorophyll is responsible for the green color, as it breaks down, the other pigments are free to strut their stuff.

Of course, you know there’s a spiritual application in all this, don’t you?

Life can be moving along, fresh and lush. Good things are happening and you’re growing in the warmth of the sun. And then suddenly there’s a chill in the air as tragedy strikes.

You lose your job.

The bank is about to foreclose.

Your husband wants a divorce.

The prognosis is terminal.

And you and I have a choice.

  • We can curl up in a corner and surrender to defeat. Or we can allow the cold circumstances to reveal strength we never knew was there as we depend on God for His upholding.
  • Instead of being overpowered by a situation that would conquer most people, we can stand firm in the power of our heavenly Father.
  • We can become bitter because life didn’t turn out the way we wanted. Or we can grow in the grace of the Holy Spirit as we follow His leading.
  • We can resent our losses. Or we can trust the Lord for what He will give us in their place.

fall colorsOur choice will determine the colors that shine through our life.

Will you and I allow disappointment to be His appointment?

Will we allow God to turn our messes into messages?

Our tests into a testimony?

And our trials into triumphs?

Sometimes green is just for a season. But there’s a season for reds, oranges, and yellows, too. And even when those vibrant colors turn brown and it feels like there’s no coming back…

Fall follows summer.

Winter follows fall.

And spring follows winter.

And with spring comes tender shoots with lush green leaves…again.

What season are you in?
Which colors are you displaying?


Seasons of Life, Jumping to Conclusions, and Worry

When we relocated from the northeast to Florida, one of the things we missed most was the change of seasons. Native Floridians quickly advised us that instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, our seasons are snowbird, love bug, summer, and hurricane.

While the calendar tells us the first day of spring was March 20th, our weather didn’t appear to get the message. Still, we’re not complaining about the cooler temperatures this week. We just look for signs of spring in other ways.

One of those ways appeared in my own backyard a few days ago.

Last month, I wrote a blog post titled, “Mate for Life.” In that post, I described a pair of sandhill cranes that had frequented our backyard for the past year. I also expressed my sadness at the apparent loss of half the pair. I hoped the missing crane might simply be tending her nest and would soon reappear.

WorryShe did. This week, we watched the whole family foraging for food: daddy, mommy and two precious sandhill crane chicks.

When I first noticed the single crane, I had assumed the worst: his mate had died and he would be alone for the rest of his life.

Why do we do that? Why do we jump to conclusions and assume terrible things before gathering all the facts? We allow ourselves to become anxious over what appears to have occurred, only to discover it has not happened. In the end, we prove the adage, “Worry is the interest paid in advance on a debt you may never owe.”

Worry

I know better, yet I can fall back into old patterns of behavior. Uncertainty is an opportunity to trust my heavenly Father. But my actions don’t always reflect what I claim to believe. I need to remember rock-solid truth when the future appears to be sinking sand.

The Bible has much to say on this subject. Perhaps these verses will be as helpful to you as they are to me…

  • “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30 ESV).

 

  • “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34 ESV).

 

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

 

  • “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).

 

Good words. But if these words are to help me, I must do more than just read them. I need to own them. Remind myself of them daily. Process them so my understanding and application is more than a mere academic exercise.

I need to live them.

It’s not always easy. And I expect there will continue to be occasions when I’ll regress. Still, I’m grateful my heavenly Father does not give up on me. He provides reminders that during seasons of change I don’t need to jump to conclusions or expect the worst. His Holy Spirit encourages me so that I don’t have to yield to worry.

And, occasionally, He sends me a family of sandhill cranes to remind me that He’s still in control.

How do you handle uncertainty?