November 26, 2010
Just Like the Leaves
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8:35 (NIV)
As I write this, it is fall and the leaves are changing in a glorious display of color. Each landscape looks like God Himself personally painted it—red, yellow, orange and green. I marvel as I drive, soaking in the visual display that is a feast for the eyes, thanking God for His creativity and care for even the smallest of details on this earth.
When my daughter asked me one day why the leaves change color, I scanned the recesses of my brain for this most basic of elementary science facts. But there was nothing there. I patted my daughter and assured her, yet again, that we would learn this answer together. (Sometimes my children wonder if I ever went to school and—if I did—how it is I managed to retain precious little.)
We read a book together and learned why the leaves change color. The leaves are slowly dying, their hold on the tree loosening a little more every day. The more they detach, the more a substance within them called chlorophyll dissipates. Chlorophyll is green in color, which causes the whole leaf to appear green. But when the chlorophyll is gone, other colors have a chance to surface. The red, gold, and orange colors were within the leaf all along—they were just overshadowed by the presence of the chlorophyll. It took the process of dying for their glorious color to be displayed.
We are in the process of dying every day, just like those leaves. When we choose to follow Christ, He asks us to take up our cross and follow Him, engaging in a daily process of giving up our rights, our pride, and ourselves in the name of service, giving and submitting. It is the painful work of death, yet in it we find colors we didn't know were there emerging. Once our sense of self and entitlement overshadowed us, coloring us an eternal—yet common—green. In the dying process, we find that God designed us to be more brilliant and colorful as we surrender our lives to Him.
People are drawn to this colorful display. They want to know how they too can break out of their same old green-colored lives and live with this kind of brilliance. In our humanness, we want to cling to the security of the tree - the security of money, or family, or our comfort zones and routines. But God asks us to let go, to trust Him, and to die a little more every day. We must trust the dying process and encourage others to do the same, displaying our colors so that people far from Him are drawn to Him, just as He intended.
Dear Lord, I don't want to live a me-colored life. Please show me how, through dying to self, Your brilliant colors can be displayed in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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This fall, find a pretty colored leaf and press it between the pages of a heavy book. Then mount it on a page in your journal. Write down Mark 8:35 and some thoughts about how the dying process is making you a more "colorful" person. (If you don't live in an area where the leaves change color, then purchase some fall leaf stickers and decorate a page with them.)
What colors have I seen displayed in my life when I willingly let go?
Matthew 10:38, "And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (NIV)
Romans 8:13, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (NIV)
© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 26 November 2010.