Bright red, flaming orange, and golden yellow trees on either side of the road arched like a glorious tunnel of color for me to travel through on my way to church. I was so caught up in the splendor of their colors that I told God, "Your artwork is amazing! Thank you for making the leaves turn such beautiful colors!" That's when He replied, "They look the most beautiful right before they die." Hmmm...I had never noticed that before, but I have not stopped thinking of it since.
I've done some research in recent days. My whole life I was under the impression that the leaves actually change their colors. What I've learned since is that they have really been those vibrant colors all along! According to the website Answersingenesis.org, "As the plant withers, it may produce vibrant colors because, as a leaf ceases to function, the chlorophyll degrades, revealing the colors of previously hidden pigments." Those vibrant colors were once all previously hidden pigments. This means that they were a part of the leaf all along, they were just hidden underneath the green color. Once fall arrives and they peak in a magnificent display of color, we are finally able to see the beauty that was underneath all along! After they peak, they die and are no more. This reminds me of some people that I know.
I've noticed that as people age they often become more beautiful. In fact, some of the most beautiful, the most vibrant people I know...are in their seventies and eighties. You may laugh at this, but bear with me a minute. People are like leaves. We spend most of our lives looking like your basic green leaf. There doesn't appear to be anything special really going on. Yet all the while, God is artfully painting pigments of color underneath our outer layer....if we let Him. Every time we allow Him to have His way in our lives we gain a new pigment. Every time we allow a trial He sees us through to produce growth, He adds another brush stroke to the under layer. Each test of faith, every time we choose to forgive, when we speak the truth in our hearts and allow Him to change us, more and more brilliant pigments are added! As we age, those pigments slowly begin to come to the surface. Suddenly there is nothing about us that looks ordinary! As we share those pigments with others, we show forth the glory of the master painter...God! Every time we share how He has seen us through a trial, how He has changed our hearts, how He taught us to have faith, and the moments we chose to forgive others...they see a pigment. In sharing our journey the bright reds, flaming oranges, and golden yellows show through until finally we get to meet the master painter face to face!
It often takes a lifetime to get all of our pigments. I've noticed that those who are in their seventies and beyond are the best at letting them show through. They are masters at transparency. Perhaps it's because they know that simply based on their age they are closer to meeting the master painter than ever before! Maybe it's because they have allowed the pigments He's painted to reach such deep layers of saturation in their lives that they have truly become those glorious colors! Whatever it is, they have an inner beauty that they eagerly share with anyone who is willing to sit for a while and listen....and spending time with them is such a treasure! Not only can we learn so much from the wisdom they've gained through the pigments of their lives, we get a glimpse of what our future can be...if we will allow God, the master painter to have his way.
If we allow God to have His way in our lives, then we will spend all of our lives being changed one pigment at a time. Finally, when it's near time to meet Him we will be at our peak showing forth the most splendor...for His glory! It's not easy to allow Him to have His way. Often the very things that will bring us those brilliant colors are the hardest and most painful of lessons we will learn. As I write this I find my heart's cry is to never stop letting Him have His way and to never stop growing. How about you? Do you want to to be plain old green or do you want to show forth His splendor to future generations? What brilliant color of His glory do you want to be? I really hope I get to be flaming orange with a touch of red!