Hints of fall fill the landscape here in East Tennessee. Quietly, the leaves on the tree out my window have begun to exchange their verdant color for showier hues: a smidgen of burgundy, a whisper of gold, and a dash of orange.
The roots and trunk below already know that change is coming. Cooler winds dance across their branches. Soft morning dew now sits chilled on its leaves. Soon the entire tree will be ablaze with radiant colors, and we will marvel at autumn’s beauty and drives miles to take in landscapes scenes.
This is how change occurs in our lives as well. One day our lives are brilliantly green with joy of daily life; the next day few leaves have colored into the hints of a new venture. Suddenly, we are no longer happy with constant green. We must have our entire live in vibrant colors. My, how we revel in the beauty and forget that autumn always leads to winter — death of something beautiful.
When God begins a new thing in our hearts, we must accept the death of another part of life. Little by little, people and places, moments and memories lose their luster, and our hearts long for that new notion God has planted. These ventures come in various forms: a new job or friendship, a cross country or across the ocean move, even a new hope to pursue a lifelong dream. No matter the “new,” we must be willing to open our hands to let go of the old — just as the tree lets each leaf fall.
Once winter fully sweeps into our lives in regards to changes, we are miserable on many levels. The pain of lost relationships, unfamiliar surroundings, missed comfort of old routines can prove to be daunting, if not traumatic. We trudge through days, walking out the plan God has given, yet wish for the old times, the old friends, the old routines.
It’s true what they say about hindsight. During autumn of a life changing event, I revel in the colors and excitement of a new adventure. Later when the winter winds blow strong and skies turn gray, I view the change as a punishment forced on me by God. I feel abandoned and frustrated. After much toil that involves tears and complaints, spring finally arrives. Life and days are green again, comfortable and routine. Looking back over painful changes that sent me to new places with new faces, I easily realize God did His greatest work in me during those times.
In spring, we look back and find value in the autumn and winter of life changes. Most times, we blush at the anger, frustration, and pain we poured out towards God, and others, during this transition time. Instead of cursing the pain, we suddenly see the value of a winter moment, the suffering brought about through changing pains.
Today, I’m challenged to face my suffering — the autumn and winter moments — with contentment as they occur not just when they are over. While the green of Spring comforts, it is the cold of winter where God does the greatest work in our lives. May we commit to value winter not just when it departs, but when it blows in hard and mean, for it is on those frozen days where we truly find God.