The proud colors of autumn are but a precursor of their own demise. The process that turns the tree’s leaves such beautiful hues is the very thing that causes the leaf stalk to separate from the branch.
The abscission layer – the cells at the base of the leaf stalk – stop allowing moisture and minerals to reach the leaves. When the leaf is unable to manufacture chlorophyll, the green color fades and the yellows and oranges are revealed.
Eventually, this abscission layer completely severs the connection, and the leaves fall to the ground…and on the driveway…and the porch….and into the house….
Well, let’s take a break from the endless leaf raking and sweeping to consider what causes our own downfall. There seems to be a similar progression.
Don’t get me wrong; I do love the musky aroma of fallen leaves, especially hickory! I love the rustling sound they make as I shuffle my feet through several inches of them! But let’s face it; after the first few weeks, we consider them a terrible nuisance for the mess they make. After a few wet winter days, they mat down and smother any hopeful green patch of lawn trying to grow underneath the slimy stuff.
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away”
(Isaiah 64:6, NASB).
After we glory in our own pleasures like the leaves glorying in their new autumn look, it’s all downhill from there. Our souls wither as our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
But wait; we have our “righteous deeds” to cancel out those pesky and damning iniquities, right? We can be as proud of them as we would be of filthy rags of the most disgusting nature. The truth is, even our best works cannot be a source of pride at all in light of God’s holiness.
The only thing that can cancel out our iniquities is the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13, 14).
So as you haul your unwanted leaf litter to the curb or watch as the leaves blow away on their own, remember that those leaves can still become a treasure in the right hands. Many an experienced gardener has happily taken dead leaves off the hands of those who shoved aside those decomposing leaves.
God’s image of redemption is the salvaging of something that was worthless to others – your immortal soul!
After our lives have been littered with the temporary pageantry of colorful moments, God takes them and makes them useful again, in much the same way as a gardener uses the leaves to enrich the soil for a stupendous garden to come.
The beauty of God’s plan to redeem mankind is only understood when we comprehend how far we have fallen.