the beauty of death

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:… He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from beginning to the end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,11

I am absolutely captivated by fall in the Midwest. Every time I take a drive, I risk my life because I find myself looking at the trees rather than the road. Growing up in the desert (which has its own beauty), I never experienced such a colorful season. It’s just magnificent!

Today, as I was on one of my risky drives, I started thinking about the significance of autumn. Why do the leaves change colors?

Now, I am not a science teacher or any expert on biology, but I remember enough from grade school to know that as the days get shorter and the weather cools, the leaves stop making food, the chlorophyll (which makes the leaves green) breaks down, and the remaining pigments are revealed (hence the red, yellow, purple, and orange colors). Then within a short time, those leaves will fall. After all the leaves have fallen, the tree is prepared for the dark, cold winter. Once the tree has made it through the winter, warmth and light return with spring, and the tree continues to grow.

God reminded me of some Biblical truths through those autumn leaves today. In order for there to be growth, there must be periods of “death.”

Death for Life

The most significant time of death in the spiritual life is when we crucify our sinful natures. Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the bought of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” In salvation, we find freedom from sin. Our sin natures must die so that the Spirit might live within us. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) This death alone, which provides new life, is beautiful to me. I think my favorite passage on this is found in 1 Peter 2:21-24, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; be committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Death for Growth

Beyond this, I consider the wintry times of my life–times that seemed dark and cold. Before them, I didn’t realize what God was preparing me for. During them, I didn’t understand what God was doing or why He was even allowing it. After them, I couldn’t praise Him enough for proving Himself so real in my life! I came to see that in those times of “death,” He was preparing me for growth. He was working in my life to reveal Himself not only to me, but to others as well, and all for His glory! What an incredible God! 1 Peter 3:14 says, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye…” 

In James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this that they trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” That word perfect is referring to maturity. God has a plan for each and every one of us. In order for us to fulfill that plan, we must go through periods of pain in which we die to self and trust God. We must shed away our desires, our wants, our fears, and our desire for control. They only hinder us from allowing God to do His growing work. We must trust that He is good, and He is loving. I think that Asaph understood this when he wrote in Psalm 73:28, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”

A Final Thought

Our God is a creative God, and He is a God of order. I think this is wonderfully displayed in the changing of the seasons. I think creation reveals so much about God, not to cause us to worship that which was created, but rather the awesome, omnipotent Creator.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:…” It then goes on to speak of those who lost sight of the Creator, saying “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more that the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:20,25)

I think too often we are in such a rush that we forget to stop and look at the things which God has created. They reveal so much about our awesome God. David understood this when he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

Do not be in such a hurry that you miss something that He wants to show you. God began to reveal His power and wisdom to Job and said, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” (Job 37:14)

Will you stand still? Will you consider His works?

For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. ~ Psalm 92:4-5