The air is crisp and clear. The bright hues of gold, amber and vermilion warm your vision as the breeze cools your skin. Autumn has arrived in all its splendor. While I will always be a summertime boy, my artist’s heart loves the palette of the fall season. It’s almost as if God is saying, “Behold my handiwork and know that I am God.”
What I find even more astounding is that God accomplishes this metamorphosis to brilliant reds, oranges and yellows through the process of the leaf dying. As a tree prepares for its winter hibernation, it ceases all non-essential activity including producing nutrients for leaves. The result: a kaleidoscope of color that causes people to travel up and down the Appalachian Mountains oohing, aahing, snapping pictures and collecting leaves. Even in their deaths, leaves declare the glory of their Maker.
What a great reminder of God’s purpose for our lives. Through our daily dying to self (see Galatians 5:24) we glorify God. Every time we say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to God we declare our Maker’s praise. When we choose to walk with a cross (cf. Luke 14:27) rather than the way of the world, we testify to God’s holy standard. When we place God’s desires before our own, our lives flood the world around us with the colors of God’s glory.
Paul put it much more eloquently. Rather than comparing us with dying leaves, he compared us to jars of clay. In 2 Corinthians chapter four Paul described our earthly bodies to earthenware vessels. The comparison is a good one. Both are fragile, easily broken, and, compared to eternity, short-lived. But God placed a treasure within us so that while “we are afflicted in every way…perplexed…persecuted…” and “…struck down” we would not be “crushed…despairing…forsaken…” or “…destroyed.” How is this possible? By carrying “in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (verse 10). Once again, through death (this time Jesus’) God is glorified.
Now, don’t overlook the promise in that passage. Just as Jesus conquered death, we who are in Christ will conquer death. Just as a tree will turn green and blossom come spring, we too can bloom in the resurrection of Jesus. Eternal life begins at baptism, not the grave. The joy comes in knowing that eternal life doesn’t end at the grave. To quote an old song, let us “live like we’re dying” and glorify God to everyone we encounter. And the next time you admire the beauty of a tree bedecked in its golden, autumn robe, remember, we can glorify God through anything, even death itself.
Living for Him,