The Turning of Leaves Foreshadows Our Progression Toward God

by Charles Stanley

Every year as photosynthesis finishes her summer chores and the leaves turn from green to the red, brown, and gold colors of autumn, we witness the passage of life into death. When summer ends, the days grow shorter, telling the trees to begin their preparation for winter. They stop the process of converting light and water into food. When nourishment becomes scarce, the green chlorophyll disappears from their leaves, and yellow, orange, and rust take its place.

The ceremony of a maple shedding her leaves may be one of the most glorious events we observe, but the process is actually a funeral procession. So it is when we are asked to go through a dying experience for God. What He yields from our surrender is beautiful in His sight.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up” (Eccl. 3:1-3). Perhaps you are going through a season of death. We all do. It is important to remember that God works all things for His glory, however difficult they may seem (Rom. 8:28). As He works in us, He burns out of us things that need to be removed from our lives.

The termination of encumbrances that hinder our spiritual growth can be painful. Frequently, the process involves suffering. We may go through a period of failing health, the loss of a job, or a broken relationship. All of these valleys reveal our weaknesses and allow God to deal with them. If we have become arrogant and self-assured, God may humble us. If we subscribe to a theology of materialism, financial loss can quickly correct our thinking and help us to gain God’s perspective on His provision in our lives. When we base our identity on another person who is then taken away from us, we are forced to look to Christ for self-completion.

Temptation brings about dependence upon God. Uncertainty causes us to seek His will. Pain forces us to cry out to Him. Each struggle brings us closer to our heavenly Father. It is important to remember that He will never leave us or forsake us when we go through the valley of the shadow of death. God governs the process—He limits Satan.

When testing Job, “the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:12). God oversees the method, intensity, and duration of the trials He uses to conform us to His image. When we go through these trials, we die to self and become sanctified in Him. Our rebellion and resistance give way to repentance. The result is a surrendered life that glorifies God.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (John 12:24,25). What seeds is God planting in your life today? What fruit will they bear when He is finished—understanding, generosity, faithfulness, or humility? You can rest in His hand. Whatever He is working out in you, He will be faithful to bring it to completion.

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