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“For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow.” (Psalm 144:4)

As I look out my window or take a walk through the park, it’s easy to see that the season is changing. We are reminded of the ending of the vibrancy of summer as evidenced by the beautiful flowers which have lost their grandeur surrendering to hues of brown and gray.  Once thriving leaves drop from their branches bursting with color but are now dying. Colder temperatures flow in and bright, long days full of sunshine move out. Yes, Autumn is here again, and I have never been a fan. I have often wondered if it somehow stems from my youth when the darkness of the early evening signaled that it was time to put aside playtime and redirect my focus on the more serious task of my studies. Then too – the arrival of ‘Fall’ meant that when I would go outside, I had to “bundle up so I wouldn’t catch cold,” as my mother would so aptly put it. This week I pulled the remaining tomatoes from the garden and discarded the fresh flowers which had been brought in from the yard to escape the pending frost waiting in the wings.

It was the tossing of those wilted flowers that got me to thinking. For the past week or so, they had been held in water contained in an antique vase which has been in our family for generations. As I washed out the vessel, I held it carefully to make sure it would not slip out of my hands and break. I wondered about the many ancestors who had held that vase and how long it had been since their fingerprints remained on its surface. Then I thought again about those brown leaves on the ground just outside. Those very leaves that displayed the green of summer and later the colors of early autumn now provide a fingerprint on the earth. Their decay will provide nourishment for the soil and in the spring will help to bring forth a new season of beauty. It brings enlightened meaning to that familiar scriptural passage, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). Certainly God must have a purpose for the seasons of nature as well as the seasons of our life. As I watch these leaves drop one by one, I should consider that He is simply making room for the gifts which He is preparing for us in the future.

For those of us who have never been crazy about autumn, we might ask what it is that God intends for us to see. When we look at a fallen leaf or disintegrating summer flower, it might be appropriate to reflect on this Biblical thought: For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).  We too are a finite and fallen creation soon to pass. Any glory we claim to have is as short-lived as the leaves of summer. We seek to accomplish much, but in the end – we disappear from this earth. Therefore, it would be prudent for us to ponder what fingerprint we will leave for those generations which follow. We will make our greatest impact if we would strive to understand the Word of God and follow the teachings of Jesus.  Unlike the decaying leaves of the season, these will endure, because God never changes. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

So we find ourselves caught between the abundance of summer and dormancy of winter in the momentary uniqueness of autumn. Autumn is a study in contrasts, and the result is a strange mixture of nostalgia, blessings, and potential. It yields the harvest of seeds we’ve sown throughout life and braces us for colder days to come. We might find that this a good time to focus on our commitment to God. When life’s autumn arrives, we look back and gain a better understanding of the way He has led us. But in this time of transition, we should recognize we still have work to do.  We are reminded that we need to let go of anything that would hinder a fresh relationship with Him. During this season, trust God fully as you wait for the harvest. He has a good plan for each life, though some days the fruit may not be evident. As we watch those dancing leaves fall to the ground and place their fingerprint on the earth, we too must reach an understanding that we must die unto ourselves and become a new creation (Luke 9:23-24). As we do this, we will soon learn that the rebirth of springtime is just around the corner.

REFLECTION: As you look back at the various seasons of your life, in what ways do you find evidence of God’s loving presence? What are you holding onto that is preventing a freshness to the current season ahead? What fingerprints of your life will you leave behind that will positively impact others?


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