Fall colors in the Adirondack Mountains and the Green Mountains of Vermont are unmatched in beauty by any other place in the United States. The Fall panorama can simply be breath-taking, in so many ways. We have friends who own a plane, and this time of year they often fly over the “High Peaks” region of upstate New York to snap pictures of the landscape that seems almost unearthly. The colors can be so brilliant that it is hard to take it all in.
I was thinking of this as I drove my motorcycle over a few back roads last week. It was a very cold, clear morning but I wanted to take one more ride before taking my bike in for winter repairs. I crested a hill, and there before me was an incredible view. The mountains were a brilliant blaze of colors that no earthly artist could have ever painted. There was liquid orange, and pale pink, splashes of flame red, and a patchwork of every color of the rainbow imaginable. All I could do was pull over, turn off the engine, and in the silence, stare with awe-struck wonder. The rich earthy smells, blue Jays calling in the distance, and the ocean of colors that spread out before me, was beyond description. I was half shivering from the cold, but had to admit when I saw this view, “it has all been worth it”!
As I enjoyed this magnificent artistry, it hit me that all of this beauty was the result of two things. The first was cold temperatures, and the second was dwindling daylight hours. In all honesty, I must admit, I never like embracing these changes when they come. This is because I know it means the warm, lazy days of summer are gone. But, I also know these are in fact, the very things that bring about the amazing sight my eyes were beholding. Frost on the ground, and reduced daylight hours, releases the beauty of what comes next. Without these added stress factors, as unpleasant as they are, it would be absolutely impossible to produce the glory of what was all around me.
In this life, God will often bring us to an uncomfortable place of change, to make us better. It’s the place we have refused to face, or don’t want to process, but we have to go there anyway. We so enjoy the summer we have lived in, and the thought of entering a cold season just does not enter our field of vision. We will comfortably keep doing what has always worked, and find ways to prolong it, even if it is not God’s highest and best for us. Then it happens, the world gets colder and darker, for no apparent reason, and our life is left floundering in a directionless sea of uncertainty. Like it or not, we are then forced into uncomfortable personal change, and there is no way out, so we are forced to go through it instead.
What we often fail to recognize in these tough times, is that this is exactly what we need to bring out the beauty of what comes next. The frost, and longer nights of Autumn, reveal the brilliant colors that will paint the hillsides. So also, the personal distress God allows into our life, is exactly what sets us up for a greater expression of His glory through us. God could leave us as we are, and never bring any challenge to make us grow, but is that what’s best? He could be like a negligent, weakling of a parent, who never crosses their self-willed, dishonoring child. But, let’s be honest. Who enjoys dealing with these kids, and is that what you want for your life?
Every gardener knows it takes a lot of water, fertilizer and sunlight to produce the best harvest. Fruit in our life is just the same, since it grows best when the environment for it is right. That means, the factors that produce joy, come through times of sorrow. What produces patience, is endurance in days of difficulty. What causes peace to grow, is going through seasons of unrest, with godly confidence. It is the frost, and growing darkness of difficult situations, that brings out the beauty and glory of what God has planned for you all along.
Never settle for where you are, or what you have currently achieved. Ask God to give you the desire to be the best version of who He made you to be. That will mean unexplained seasonal shifts, where frost and darkness are your companions. It will mean adjusting your vision, and displaying a better attitude in moments of crisis. Most of all, it will mean finding your value in who He says your are, not in what you think you do well. Change is the order of life, and it often comes through things we would prefer not to experience. However, when you see the amazing landscape of life that God lays out before you, you will say, as I did on that frosty, clear morning, “it has all been worth it”. Now, bundle up, get out there and don’t let the frost keep you from enjoying all the beauty that surrounds you.