Ah, Fall. What a wonderful time of the year. Football, crisp fall air, the crunch of leaves beneath your feet—for some folks, it’s somewhere between invigorating and intoxicating. In the northern climates, the colors of fall are simply breathtaking, although many of those who live there don’t really appreciate the view. In the southern climates, where this transplanted Yankee lives these days, the colors aren’t nearly so nice, unless, of course, you’ve got a special love for a little yellow and a lot of brown.
But, God is fair. We Southerners do, indeed, receive tangible and definite benefit in exchange for our lack of fall color. God offsets our loss of color with our wonderfully long, pleasant fall that starts sometime in October and in some places lasts until January or February. My father died in the month of November. I remember being in Pennsylvania for the funeral, wading through three feet of lake-effect snow (and being reminded of why I like the south), while my wife and daughter were home in Little Rock running around in their short sleeves and turning on a little bit of air conditioning to keep the house comfortable.
And then there was the December day a few years ago in Greensboro, NC, when I called my Dad in Erie, PA, and heard a detailed and pointed description of the problems he was having with his snow blower while trying to clear the three feet of snow from his driveway. I won’t bother repeating his response when I told him that I had just mowed the lawn—I’ll leave that to your imagination. Let’s just say that it wasn’t very nice.
So, why is it that all those Yankees (a generic term for people born north of the Mason-Dixon line) get the great fall color, while most of the South does not? It’s just basic chemistry. The first element in the “perfect Fall color” formula is a good hard freeze. A freeze breaks down cell walls, releasing the chemical reaction that results in those fabulous colors. Without a good freeze (or at least a hard frost), the colors never even begin to approach their potential. I know that’s true, because I’ve experienced a few unusually warm Fall seasons when I lived up north, and the price we paid for our warmth was a rather lackluster showing of Fall color.
Sitting here and contemplating all of this makes me think of some of the “colorful” Believers that I’ve had the privilege of knowing over the years. You know the ones I mean—people that have such a Spiritual “glow” about them that you want to be just like them. These are people who are basically humble folks, not impressed with themselves at all, but wherever they go, they make things happen in the Spiritual realm. And without exception, they are people who know what hard times are all about. Their stories may be different, but they all contain the same thread: at some “freezing point” in their lives, when they were just about ready to give up, they decided to surrender everything they had to the Lord. They put their very life, breath, and blood in God’s hands and decided to follow Christ, even if it meant following Him to the point of death.
Christ showed Himself faithful and carried them through that “freezing point,” and after they came through, they burst forth in a Joyous display of unfettered faith and trust, finally ready to totally serve, totally follow, and totally trust God. Just like those fall leaves up north, they emerged from their cold, freezing darkness with a glorious burst of color for all the world to see.Are you at a “freezing point” in your life? Lay everything you have, everything you are, and everything you’ve ever dreamed at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Let go of it completely, and let Him have it all. Then, watch what wonderful colors God can bring forth from a heart that is totally surrendered to Him.