Someone posted Twitter the following sentiment: “I love the amazing colors the leaves turn in the fall … reminding us that change is beautiful”. We who live in New England are in the midst of peak foliage season and the “leaf-peepers” will be out in full force this weekend. As I sit in my office and peer out the window I see the splendor of autumn – the vivid variety of reds, browns, oranges, yellows and violets – that has the appearance of the God of creation having taken His palate and He has painted the landscape in earth tones. Change is beautiful.
As I contemplate the autumn leaves and their changing from green to brown, I am reminded of 7th grade Earth Science class. It was there that I was taught that: a) the green of leaves is due to the presence of chlorophyll, a molecule necessary for photosynthesis; and b) as the chlorophyll breaks down the colors present in the structural elements of leaves remain. In other words, as a leaf loses its ability to produce energy it changes into the beautiful foliage we see. The leaves, at some point, are no longer able to convert the sun’s power into life-sustaining energy. Weakness is beautiful.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Do we think about ourselves like the leaves of autumn? Does the thought that our true colors surface when we have exhausted ourselves of all our natural resources ever cross our minds? Like the leaves, we all burst into the world with a similar appearance; we are all lush and green and full of energy. As the seasons of life pass, our ability to ‘rebound’ from the punishment of our environment diminishes and the color fades from our countenance. We begin to develop a uniqueness that was ever-present but unnoticeable, masked by the strength of our youth. That is when the beauty of our souls appears.
Paul may or may not have had the pleasure of enjoying a crisp autumn day and appreciating the “fiery” appearance of the fall landscape, but he did understand the seasons of life and the limitations of human strength. He knew that weakness is beautiful, for he knew that is weakness the power of God is made perfect (or finds its fullness). He would have known, like the Psalmist, that we are like trees and that there are seasons where our energy is exhausted. He would have trusted that God would sustain His creation through the season of weakness and vulnerability. For you and I know that the leaves may die but the tree remains.
There are things that I rely upon to give me the energy to face the demands of the day – rest, coffee, food, relationships, etc. – and I know that there are days that these things are not available to the degree I desire. I need to continually remind myself that God’s grace, His unmerited and undeserved favor toward us, is ALWAYS sufficient. My leaves may change color and fall to the ground, but He will still sustain me. Weakness is beautiful, even when the evidence of that beauty is clogging the gutters and covering the yard. Lord, help us to boast about those weaknesses as often as we mention of the fall foliage.