October 30, 2019
Reprinted from October 29, 2009
While enjoying breakfast with family in the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge and admiring the waterfall on a very stormy day in October, I found myself unusually fascinated with something I have previously thought little about – falling leaves. For a short time, I entered their world and pondered the life experience of those multicolored, delicate objects as they left the tree and quickly fell to the ground.
There were large ones and small ones, and I doubt that any of them were exactly alike. Each tree had a multitude of leaves, so the thought of viewing them individually never occurred to me. As they fell to the ground, however, it was like each one made a brief but personal statement.
Since last spring, the leaves have offered shade and protection, but on this day, their life work was coming to an end. On individual display for a few seconds as they fell, they were making quite an impression on me. After their brief trip to the ground, they would be part of a colorful carpet and then soon disappear.
It was that trip to the ground that had me pondering because of the picture of life that they represent. Every human has a brief time to make a statement. Jesus said we are here today and gone tomorrow, while James compared our time on earth to vapor or steam – you see it and then it vanishes.
Those leaves left the tree and floated to the ground as though they had wings. Some turned and twirled, while others just dropped. Some fell all alone, while others fell in groups. But each one had its own brief time on display.
Some leaves are still hanging on, but eventually, each tree will have just one leaf left to make the final fall for the season. In a few months, a new crop of leaves will appear, and a year from now, those leaves will be making their final statement – a brief but impressive moment of individual recognition.
The falling leaves have reminded me of how much our life on earth is like them. Because there are so many people on this planet, we may feel like we are unnoticed and of little significance. But each of us has our moment of “display,” and even if we live to be 107 years old, it is but a brief vapor when compared to eternity. Our moment in time is our opportunity to display the character of God and the love of Jesus. Regardless of what the masses do, we are to live with commitment and effectiveness as representatives of Jesus until He calls us home to heaven.
When our “leaf” falls, we are on display for a moment as people reflect on who we were and what impact we made in their life. But our concern today should be about our life while “on the tree” as well as our final moment on display. We need to fulfill our role as one member of God’s big family, while staying very much aware of the message of falling leaves as it relates to our future.
It has been helpful for me to ponder these thoughts, and I hope that someone else might find encouragement and challenge in them as well. Thanks for thinking about it. I want so much for today as well as the final day of my life to make a positive statement.
Pastor Bill Ehmann