“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Mark 8:35 (NIV)
A friend gave me the most unusual birthday gift this year — a bag full of beautiful leaves. The colors and patterns were like small paintings, each different and spectacular in its own way. My friend knows me well enough to know that I would treasure a gift like this and it made me so happy when she said “I thought of you when I saw these…”
Today, a devotional I received by email brought me back to that gift. I’m so thankful the friend reminded me to take a photo of the leaves right away, because the color didn’t last long, and now I know why. I’ve included the devotional from Marybeth Whalen that came from Proverbs 31 Ministries. I encourage you to sign up for the Proverbs 31 Ministries emails. They will speak to you at just the right moment…
From Marybeth Whalen:
As I write this, it is fall and the leaves are changing in a glorious display of color. Each landscape looks like God Himself personally painted it–red, yellow, orange and green. I marvel as I drive, soaking in the visual display that is a feast for the eyes, thanking God for His creativity and care for even the smallest of details on this earth.
When my daughter asked me one day why the leaves change color, I scanned the recesses of my brain for this most basic of elementary science facts. But there was nothing there. I patted my daughter and assured her, yet again, that we would learn this answer together. (Sometimes my children wonder if I ever went to school and–if I did–how it is I managed to retain precious little.)
We read a book together and learned why the leaves change color. The leaves are slowly dying, their hold on the tree loosening a little more every day. The more they detach, the more a substance within them called chlorophyll dissipates. Chlorophyll is green in color, which causes the whole leaf to appear green. But when the chlorophyll is gone, other colors have a chance to surface. The red, gold, and orange colors were within the leaf all along–they were just overshadowed by the presence of the chlorophyll. It took the process of dying for their glorious color to be displayed.
We are in the process of dying every day, just like those leaves. When we choose to follow Christ, He asks us to take up our cross and follow Him, engaging in a daily process of giving up our rights, our pride, and ourselves in the name of service, giving and submitting. It is the painful work of death, yet in it we find colors we didn’t know were there emerging. Once our sense of self and entitlement overshadowed us, coloring us an eternal–yet common–green. In the dying process, we find that God designed us to be more brilliant and colorful as we surrender our lives to Him.
People are drawn to this colorful display. They want to know how they too can break out of their same old green-colored lives and live with this kind of brilliance. In our humanness, we want to cling to the security of the tree – the security of money, or family, or our comfort zones and routines. But God asks us to let go, to trust Him, and to die a little more every day. We must trust the dying process and encourage others to do the same, displaying our colors so that people far from Him are drawn to Him, just as He intended.
Dear Lord, I don’t want to live a me-colored life. Please show me how, through dying to self, Your brilliant colors can be displayed in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.