But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
As I watch the wind-tossed leaves outside my window, autumn appears to have finally made its entrance. With it comes cooler weather, vibrant displays of color, and the ushering in of the holidays. I have always enjoyed the fall season, but discovered a newfound appreciation for it this year, and it has nothing to do with a deep fondness for pumpkin spice lattes. It has everything to do with lessons God has been teaching me through the trials of my life.
I have been reflecting upon the fact that autumn, while showcasing its rich colors, actually involves death. Before the leaves reluctantly detach from the trees, they lose their chlorophyll, the chemical which gives them their bright green colors in spring and summer. In doing so, they cease the food making process in which they had engaged throughout the warmer months. It is at this time that the tree begins to rely on the storehouse of nutrients it has set aside for days of limited sunlight, and the leaves display their brilliant colors before eventually letting go and drifting to the ground. I think in some ways, this process is similar to my life as a child of God.
So many times I live like a tree during the bright and sunny seasons of my life. I strive daily to fill myself up with everything I think I need to be self-sustaining. All the while, God waits for me to run to Him so He can supply me with His provisions to carry me through the trials He already sees ahead in my future. In His perfect sovereignty, He knows that I will need His love, mercy, and grace in order to survive the harsh, cold seasons of life. When I hold onto Him, He displays His beauty in my life like the brilliant colors of fall.
The blazing orange colors of autumn remind me of the glow of God’s love. Because He loves me, He takes care of all my material, emotional, and spiritual needs. He knows what I require before I even utter a prayer, yet He longs for me, the creation, to spend time with Him, the Creator. It is because of His love that He allows me to experience trials in my life that drive me to kneel at His feet. It is at this point that He picks me up and allows me to experience the warmth of His embrace with the awareness that He is all I really need.
When I cling to Him, He displays evidence of His mercy like the deep red shades adorning the fall trees. As Christ’s crimson blood flowed down the cross at Calvary, He took my sin upon His shoulders and saved me from the chastisement I deserved. He would have been perfectly justified, given the depth of sin in my life, to require payment of me, but the richness of His mercy compelled Him to withhold what I deserved, and to give me what I did not.
The gentleness of God’s grace comes to mind when I observe the subtle yellow hues of the season. His grace is the soft and steady beat that plays relentlessly in the background of my life. He gives me what I don’t deserve simply because of His tenderness toward His children. I can do nothing to earn this gift, but He freely gives it as He reaches down and offers me the salvation that I could never merit on my own.
God’s love, mercy, and grace mingle together to paint a beautiful picture in my life. No matter how hard I try, I could never craft a scene that comes close to the one He creates every day in the lives of His children. Because I am made in His image, He desires to display love, mercy, and grace through me. I am His instrument to sing the melodies of the gospel to a lost and dying world even as He uses the trials of my life to refine these qualities in me. If I never show love to those I deem unlovable, I will not truly learn to love as God first loved me, for I can be unlovable, too. If I never offer forgiveness as a demonstration of mercy to those I do not think deserve it, I will never fully appreciate the weightiness of my own sin and the pardon my Heavenly Father granted me. If I refrain from showing grace to those who hurt me, I will stop far short of comprehending the gift of amazing grace the Lord lavished undeservedly on me.
Like the fall leaves that drift to the ground through no effort of their own, I encourage you to lose yourself to the rhythms of life ordained by our Heavenly Father. He commands the winds that blow through our lives at just the right time to grant us an appreciation for His perfect gifts. Revel in those gifts as you enjoy the beauty of the season, and give thanks to the Giver of all good things.