Crisp, clean fall air surrounds one of my favorite times of year. Late season humidity meets the cool of the night and leaves behind more than a memory. Dew drops, left from the encounter, elevate the gossamer strands of spider webs in the grass to elaborate jeweled structures, glinting in the morning sun.
Late season roses add a gently sweet fragrance to the morning air and the leaves of the trees which hem our meadow are beginning to reveal their colors.
Each season offers unique opportunities to see God’s hand in His creation. If we look with eyes of wonder and curiosity, ready to see His signature on every facet of nature, we can see Him in beautiful ways.
It is so with the wonder of the fall leaves.
When the hours of daylight are long during the growing season, plants take in energy from the sun. They combine this energy with water and nutrients absorbed by the roots. Chlorophyll, which feeds the plant, is produced in the leaves, making them vibrantly green.
As the daylight hours shorten, less chlorophyll is made. The chlorophyll drains out of the leaf as the plant absorbs it, and since little is made to replace it, the color that is naturally in the leaf all the time is revealed.
The beautiful colors that we enjoy in the fall: scarlet, gold, orange, yellow and purple, are always present in the leaf !
As the plant or tree produces sugars, the colors deepen throughout the growing season. Trees, for example, which produce more sugar (such as the Sugar Maple) have vividly red leaves.
However, even the most radiant colors are dominated and obscured by the green chlorophyll in the leaves during the spring and summer.
As the chlorophyll production diminishes, due to the shorter daylight hours, the stem end hardens and the leaf begins to die. When the stem is completely hardened, the leaf falls away. The glorious color in the leaf is evident for only a short period of time, and does not become obvious until the leaf DIES TO ITSELF.
In a way, it’s similar to the fact that stars don’t “come out at night.” They are in the sky, all the time, it’s just that the light of the sun is so bright it obscures the light of the stars.
It’s amazing to me that the vibrant colors are present all the time! We can learn a beautiful spiritual lesson from that natural truth.
Luke 9:23 says “Then He said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
God’s ‘colors’ aren’t evident when we are confident in ourselves and do things in our own strength.
However, when we deny ourselves or die to self, His colors shine through vividly! When we surrender our lives to God, we give Him our hopes, dreams, desires and future. We put others first. We serve, we give, we love. We set aside headstrong ways and willful actions and become submissive to the Creator and Redeemer of our souls, out of love for Him. When we die to self, people see God in us. His glory becomes evident!
It’s also interesting to note that if conditions are favorable during the growing season and the leaves receive optimal nutrition, their color brightens; waiting to burst forth when the chlorophyll fades away.
If we nourish our souls daily with the sweetness of God’s Word, then our relationship with Him deepens and the colors of His graces are ready to burst forth into a world which desperately needs Him.
This is one of many wonders in our natural wold that God has put His personal signature on! As you enjoy the gorgeous colors of the leaves this fall, reflect with wonder on the Creator, thank Him for living inside us and ask Him to help you die to self and live for Him, so that all the beautiful colors of His character may be revealed in you.
Leaf photo credit: Morgan