prayer

Fall is a Season of Change

By: Mikaela Steckmann

Fall is the inspiration for one of my favorite quotes:

 

“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go."

-Unkown

 

The falling of leaves is an important process of growth for a maturing tree. When cold weather comes it activates a hormone that signals the tree to drop its leaves as an act of survival. The leaves, though beautiful, are not essential to the trees survival-the roots are. When winter comes, and water is more scarce, the tree conserves water to the trunk and root system, so that even in that time of dryness it will continue to grow and mature. 

 

In Leviticus 19:23-25 God share a similar truth with the people of Israel. He tells them that if they plant any fruit trees in the Promised Land, they should leave the fruit for 4 years-they shouldn’t eat it, pick it, touch it. If they follow through on that, then on the 5th year the harvest will be abundant! Such practical advice. The unharvested fruit ripens, some is eaten by wildlife, the rest falls to the ground and rots. The fallen fruit is absorbed back in to the ground creating new growth and fertilizing the soil. In the meantime, that tree is growing in those 4 years and producing without hindrance so that on the 5th year, its harvest is full! Can you see some personal parallel in this instruction? I know I can…

 

In Daniel 4 the story of Nebuchadnezzar is recounted. Nebuchadnezzar thought of himself as greater than God. At some point in his reign, he had a dream about a big beautiful tree that was cut down, but the stump and roots were left. The meaning of the dream, in a paraphrase, was this: that he would be removed from his throne, and from his country. That did happen to the King. But the stump and roots of the tree were left, and received water. When Nebuchadnezzar confessed that God was the ultimate authority, and when he gave “praise and honor and glorified the King of Heaven” he was restored to his position, at even greater honor than before. Sometimes, letting dead things go hurts. A lot. For a long time. And just as Nebuchadnezzar needed to be de-throned, and experience great humility and personal pain so that he could be restored as an even greater King, sometimes we have to be taken down to the stump, so our roots can grow deeper.

 

Some of us have a stump story- The tree was cut down, but the stump and root were left. Jesus is slowly growing us back more beautiful and bountiful, as we submit ourselves more fully to Him. Our fruit seems to drop to the ground for now, but it isn’t a waste. The ground is being fertilized, and roots are growing deeper and stronger!

 

“Why am I going through this pain?”, “What is God doing through this?” “How will I ever survive this?” … those are stump questions. I’ve had them, have you?

 

I was growing, doing good things. Then all my fruit ripened. All the beautiful leaves that I had worked so hard to produce, fell around my feet. So I did the only thing I could do, I dug in and conserved water. I funneled everything I had toward my roots. Dry season came and I consumed every bit of life offered to me. I anchored myself to my water source, living off of it, and I endured winter. Then I opened my eyes and realized that I had grown taller, and stronger. Beautiful leaves began to appear and to my surprise, I wasn’t as captivated by them as I was before! For deep inside, what I marveled at was the depth to which my roots had grown. When my leaves fell, I focused all my energy on growing down, deeper than ever before. And with that depth I knew that I could weather any future storm. The people passing by me commented on my beautiful leaves, but I knew that what they couldn’t see, down deep, mattered so much more! 

 

When Jesus entered Earth, fully God and fully man, he disrupted this pattern of outward fascination that we all have. He revealed to all who would listen that the outer beauty of man meant nothing when it was disconnected from the hard, inner work of developing the heart. His death and resurrection is the foundation for all our growth- He is our water source! He is what we anchor to as we willingly let go of all our death and decay! 

 

“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go."

 

As far as trees go, death actually brings new life. As for us, the same is true.