One of the things I miss the most about living in Tennessee is the fall. I used to love taking drives down back roads in Nashville when the leaves were changing colors. When I was in college in Arkansas, I’d drive across the entire state of Tennessee to visit my sister in Knoxville, talking to God and enjoying the beauty of His creation as it transitioned to another season.
Last week as we drove from Waco up to Lawrence, Kansas, I got to see those fall colors again. As we drove, I began to wonder what was actually happening scientifically to those leaves when they were so beautiful in the fall.
Trees spend the summer months going through photosynthesis and storing up food so that when the winter comes, they can rest. As they begin to shut down their food making factories to go into rest mode for the winter, the chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the green fades with the chlorophyll, we begin to see the colors of autumn that we admire so much each year — a color that’s actually been there all along, we just couldn’t see it.
We always want to say that the trees are dead in the winter, but they’ve really just gone into a state of rest. The wood part of the tree lives, because it’s rooted. The plant itself is always connected to the life source.
But why do the leaves die?
Leaves have to die and shed because over time, they’re damaged one of three ways: by insects, disease, or weather.
We’re pretty similar as humans. We have to go through this process of renewal from time to time, because we get damaged the same way the leaves do. Maybe it’s attack of the enemy (insects), or perhaps we’re dealing with disease (heart issues), or maybe it’s just life circumstances (weather). Whatever the case, we too need to shed some things off once in a while. It’s the only way to keep bearing fruit.
But through the process, we are always connected to the life source.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16
…and even nature knows that the process is beautiful. Because God made it, too. We long to see the colors of autumn every year. The colors of renewal and refining. The colors of change. The colors that signify the coming of winter… a season of rest, that will spring up new life in the season to follow.