Fall is my favorite season. It is representative of the transition from the smoldering heat of summer to the cold of winter. Now, I am speaking from an ideal perspective. However, I live in Texas. So, it usually doesn’t happen that way. It is not unusual for Fall to have 90-degree weather but due to the change in scenery, no one can deny the arrival of Fall. One can’t help but notice the once green leaves turning into brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and browns. Our lawns become a sea of leaves that add raking to our chore list. On the other hand, some trees keep their lush green leaves all year round and are called evergreens. Why? Because they are Ever-green. They tend to keep their foliage unless they become old and need to be replaced. Some common types of evergreens include firs, spruces, pines, magnolias, eucalypti, and many of the trees found in the rainforest. Unlike evergreens, deciduous trees shed their leaves during dryer seasons to prevent water loss. Types of common deciduous trees include maples, oaks, birches, aspens, and willows. While thinking about this from a scientific standpoint, I couldn’t help but meditate on it from a spiritual perspective.
What if these two words could be used as human characteristics? How would a spiritually evergreen individual differ from someone who is spiritually deciduous? The evergreen would be someone who appears to always have it together. One who is happy, perfect, and to be envied. One who has the outward appearance of godliness and gives others the perception of holiness. Naturally, evergreens trees are usually found in areas where there tends to be an abundance of sunshine and rainfall. Those that are spiritual evergreens tend to be comfortable because their needs are met and they don’t experience a lot of changes or fluctuations in their environment. Their perspective is formed and limited by their own personal experience. Sometimes, this makes it difficult for them to relate to others from different environments.
Now, let us take a look at the spiritually deciduous. A spiritually deciduous person is adaptable. They understand that change is essential to survival and growth. They know they must shed their leaves because seasons bring changes in resources. Therefore, they must adjust to prepare for new seasons. The deciduous is ever-changing and willing to let go of the old to embrace the new and even willing to evolve into something completely different to sustain themselves. They have no problem with letting go of things that no longer benefit them spiritually to reach their full potential in God.
The problem with being evergreen is that it causes people to have a false sense of who we are and robs us of our true identity. It can make us unrelatable and self-glorified. In nature, the kind of evergreen trees usually found in rainforests are so dense that they prevent the light from touching the ground. From a spiritual standpoint, this reminded me of how one can become a distraction or hindrance to others seeing the light of Christ by being so focused on shining and bringing attention to themselves. It can also lead to us being perceived in a way that gives others an unrealistic view of what being a follower of Christ looks like. 2 Timothy 3:5 warns us about having the form of godliness and lacking the power thereof. The truth is that life is full of ups and downs. In this life, there are seasons for everything as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
3 1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Being deciduous allows our potential in God to be the focus and doesn’t give the illusion that we have arrived. The “shedding of leaves” in our lives during trying seasons and times of purification allows others to recognize the hand of God actively at work in us. It is representative of His transformative power because we can look back at seasons past and measure the growth that has taken place. Also, it strengthens our testimony because we can share our “see where He brought me from” stories with others and show them that He can do the same for them. That’s where our power comes from. We are to make His word alive in a tangible way in the earth so He may be glorified.
When I think about all of the changes that I have experienced in my life, the “leaves” I have had to shed or let go of, the different seasons the Lord has brought me through, I can’t help but rejoice. Some of them have been sunshine-filled and others have been dark, cold, and lonely, but I count them all joy. When we try to be evergreen, we make the finished work on the cross more about us and less about Him. When we are deciduous, we place the spotlight on the power of His great love and grace during our journey. Regardless of what season we find ourselves in, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Honestly, we will never become evergreen until we become surrounded by His glory in eternity. Until then, I plan to remain deciduous and “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6-7). How about you?
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