The autumn is finally here. After a long summer, with many fires burning throughout the state, the rain that has come is such a blessing. It has quelled the fires and refreshed the land.
The autumn in Boise is sadly a too-brief affair. But it is glorious, as all the trees turn color. While we are not New England, we still get quite a show, largely due to the monotony of the late-summer landscape. The wild grasses have all turned light brown, and the sage is a gray-green. The sage is blooming with its mustard-colored blossoms, and that provides some color, but otherwise, the high desert terrain remains rather quiet in its colors.
Then the trees, with the ever cooling nights, explode into color. The greens of late-summer leaves turn to golden yellows or breathtaking reds. Like Roman candles, they seem to be on fire.
Many trees are in a process of changing, with some leaves still green, while others, on the same tree, are turning red and yellow. These trees are a wonderful kaleidoscope of autumn itself—change happening, day by day, slow but sure and beautiful.
The most outstanding result of the trees changing color is how they alter the landscape: they are very noticeable now against the grasses. They were rather innocuous in the summer, but now their colors enliven the landscape with beauty.
As Christians, we sometimes blend in the landscape of our world a little too well. We don’t say or do anything that makes us stand out, for we are embarrassed by those brothers and sisters—however well-intentioned they may be—who stand out in jarring and obnoxious ways. In order not to be like them, we may go to the other extreme, and be not much different from those around us.
I like what my brother said about trees—they are “so stoic and consistent.” They simply are. They don’t consciously seek to alter their colors on the landscape. They are part of the landscape and they have role to play. As Christians, isn’t that the same with us? Aren’t we part of what God is trying to do: reclaim this world? C.S. Lewis talks of God invading the world—He is reentering its sin-filled land and reclaiming what is rightfully His, away from Satan. Satan is indeed the “prince of this world” but that doesn’t mean God has, in any way, capitulated to Satan’s temporary ownership of this planet. We are God’s invasionary force. Christ was the first to step into the enemy’s camp, and trumped Satan’s greatest weapon—death—with His resurrection.
But what if we are here, and we so blend in (I accidentally typed “bland in”—that fits too) that the landscape is not noticeably different with our presence? Our colors are muted and we have no distinction from the grasses around us. What a shame! Think of it this way: be the “other side.” Yes, there are those who stand out in the landscape and are an embarrassment to the kingdom, but should those folks then be the only ones that are out there?
How about living in such a way that we are the counter-argument to those who are misguided in how they present Christ? We shouldn’t force our witness; it should just be there, a natural outgrowth of our love of Christ and His love for us. In other words, our love should be what makes us stand out in a dreary landscape: a love on fire, in reds and golds and oranges that draw others to us, so we can point the way to Him!
Jesus used light as His metaphor: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Or fruit: “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
In other words: light and fruit and trees are all in motion: growing, moving, and ultimately showing the world that God is here, and He’s taking His planet back: one soul at a time.
Lord of all that is Good: I am small on this rather large and overwhelming landscape of brokenness. Let me be light: reflecting Your face, as the moon does the earth. Let me be fruit: growing and becoming a sweet nourishing presence. Let me be a tree in autumn: ablaze with Your glory, giving beauty to ugliness. May my life only reflect You and Your love. In the One Who is Love, amen.