Autumn makes me think. I’m glad to be an Indiana girl because we have such a marvelous array of seasons, each very distinct and measured out perfectly throughout the twelve months. I love them all. But autumn . . . autumn makes me think more reflectively than any other season. During the fall, I become more aware of God’s character and design in creation than at any other time. Many poems have been written comparing the patchwork of colors to a quilt laid across the hills, and similar ideas. My objective here is not to wax eloquently on the obvious beauty of God’s creation, but rather to ponder the graciousness of our Creator in allowing us to see such a display of color. I have learned several lessons throughout my years of musing about autumn.
Do you realize that the leaves do not actually change color, so to speak? The colors we see at this time of year have been inside that leaf since it formed on the tree in the spring. And God has seen all those colors the entire time! But during the autumn, God gives us a glimpse of the inner beauty, too. I will not attempt to be deeply scientific, but essentially, during its life, the leaf is kept green by the production of chlorophyll. At the end of the leaf’s life, a seal forms at its base, blocking the chlorophyll. As the amount of chlorophyll lessens, the colors that have been in the leaf all along are allowed to peak through. Thus we begin to see the reds, golds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves. Such stunning beauty!
In our society today, we are saturated with the beauty of youth. We are urged to buy foods and creams and dyes and pills and machines to stretch out that beauty as long as possible. Heaven forbid should we have a wrinkle or a sag! But is beauty only an appearance or is it a deeper issue? Is there not beauty in character? Is there not true beauty in an older life well lived? Character is inevitably developed throughout life. Through situations, events, trials, happenings, days, weeks, and years, the shaping of character will take place. It is not what happens that determines what type of character is developed, but rather the personal response to the happenings in life. Will we display a good or bad character, a deep or shallow character, a tender or a calloused character?
The Lord works with us in developing our character. Just as the chlorophyll is sealed off from the leaf in order for the true colors of the leaf to glow, the Lord sometimes seals things off from us to concentrate on another aspect of our lives. Perhaps He takes a person out of our lives, temporarily or permanently. If it was someone we were close to and even dependent on, would we not see our need to draw ever closer to the Savior? Perhaps He has taken our health or wealth or a job or an ability away from us. It is by doing so that our true colors are put on display. We might never know what we are made of or capable of if He had not sealed away something we thought we needed or desired. We learn more of both our strengths and weaknesses during these times of withdrawal. And it is the Lord’s desire to make us beautiful through it all. We must strongly resist the temptation to feel short-changed when we do not receive our earthly desires. God has a Master plan of beautification at work in the lives of each of His children. The plan is unique for each individual. He knows what we need and don’t need. We must trust Him. Job 23:10 reminds us that “He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as GOLD!” And His promise in Ecclesiastes 3:11 is faithful: He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.”
Autumn makes me wonder: what colors does He see in me? what colors do others see in me? What has He removed from me in order to develop my character? It will be well worth the sacrifice if others can begin to see the beauty of Christ in me!