LEAVING IN GLORY
Here in the Rocky Mountains we are enjoying glorious fall colors as the aspen shimmer in the sunshine, flinging their golden leaves to the winds. These trees exhibit an explosion of color before the white curtain of winter snow descends. As I enjoy the artistry of this annual event, I ponder what I can learn from these beautiful trees about life and death?
The yellow color of the aspen leaf (carotenoid) has been present all through the summer, but remained hidden by the stronger green. Chlorophyll, the molecule that causes the green color, has been busy all summer photosynthesizing (putting together with light) sunlight and carbon dioxide, which produces glucose (sugars) and oxygen. This process is necessary for growth and life. But when the sun dips in the sky and the nights grow longer, the connection between the branch and the leaf is slowly cut off, corked up ‘so to speak’. As the amount of chlorophyll subsides, the yellow carotenoid becomes visible. When the sun shines through the golden aspen leaves on a clear day, the tree almost glows. It is beautiful.
Recently I attended a funeral for a friend, taken much too early by lung cancer. Although his life was shortened by cancer, he still touched many, from the homeless, to farmers, suburbanites, pastors, Bible teachers, and beyond. As his friends gathered to remember this dear Christian brother, a humble, gentle scholar, I was struck by the way he blessed us all, even in his death. I left the service feeling spiritually fed.
As the aspen tree begins to close down for the winter, preparing for the harsh days ahead, it does so with a glorious burst of color. I am reminded that soon my life will also end. My prayer is that, like the golden aspen leaf, as my life on earth grows weaker, the glory of Jesus Christ might grow stronger. John the Baptist said, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30) In allowing Him to increase, His glory will become evident bringing joy and blessing to others.