Saturday, October 22, 2011

Autumn's Abounding Love

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
(Psalm 145:8 ESV)

The life is in the leaf. Let me clarify: "To the tree, the life is in the leaf." After the flood, the dove returned to Noah with an olive leaf in its beak. From this, Noah knew there was life somewhere, but he could not yet see it.

When Jesus placed a curse upon the fig tree, the disciples knew the tree had died because the leaves had withered. The life was no longer in the leaf, symbolizing death.

Autumn is a season of hope and a time of faith. There are annuals, and there are perennials. Annuals live for a season, but perennials endure the cycle of life. Annuals depend on their seeds to reproduce themselves, for when their leaves are gone, so is the plant. Perennials shed their leaves with the confidence that the season that they are about to endure is only temporary, for there is hope in something that is not yet seen. Either way, it is a time to say that the old is ending, but there is hope.

I invite you to step into your garden or yard, picking an abundant sample of leaves. Some large, some small; some complicated, some simple; some green, some changing color. What do you see?

I then invite you to take a walk or drive, just looking at the leaves. Again, what do you see: the variation of colors, the bending of leaves to the breeze, the distinctions between top and bottom, or the magnificent selection of type, shape and elegance?

I am fascinated with how thin a leaf can be. A cactus is thick for it stores its water in the leaf. But the leaves of a broadly reaching maple tree, turning yellow or orange or red in the autumn, are really very thin. The needles of a hemlock or pine tree, though not truly leaves, can also be very thin.

How does God get the water into all the extremities of the leaf? Do you remember how your biology teacher explained the process of photosynthesis, where water is combined with sunlight and carbon dioxide to give off oxygen and carbohydrates? My biology teacher was never able to explain how God got the water into that leaf, as thin as it is, so that the miracle of photosynthesis would appear before our eyes.

As you touch the leaf, sense how it bends. God has somehow made a way for the minutest portions of water to be delivered to every part of that leaf. As thin as the leaf may be, you know there is water in there, for if the water was gone, the leaf would not gently bend.

Somehow God gets the water into the leaf, and somehow he gets Christ inside a believer. To me, this is the one of his greatest miracles: putting a believer in Christ and Christ in a believer. "I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me" (John 17:23). The life is in the believer, the source of all hope.

To the tree, the life is in the leaf. To the Christian believer, the life is within and abounding in steadfast love.

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End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.