The pleasing sounds of crispy leaves crunching under each of my footsteps greet my ears every morning and evening as I come and go to attend to each day’s business. The faint but sweet scent of fall leaves, mixed with the smoky aroma of someone’s wood burning stove, accents the sense of wonder that I feel when autumn arrives. And although we have reached the end of the fiery oranges, radiant reds, and glorious yellows that have once again arrayed southern Ohio in its annual splendor, the feeling lingers on. After all, each autumn is simply the long hallway to new seasons of wonder and delight.
No less real is the wonder contained within each season of life as we pass through it. The new experiences, for example, that come with my children entering new phases of life, bring with them both sensations and emotions that are often new to me. And so there is a sense of adventure to each new day… at least if I’ll remember to trust God and look beyond what eyes of flesh may tell me are either boring or are trials to avoid.
Let’s face it: experiences, like autumn leaves, either float into our lives with a lazy fluttering or seem to be blown in on an angry wind of calamity. Experiences can glow with the glorious promise of golden opportunity while others may seem withered and devoid of any hope, painful trials that may leave us shriveling into discouragement.
But whether the leaves of our circumstances thrill us with excitement and enthusiasm or lie limply on the terrain of each new day, they both have the capacity to snare us with distraction just as leaves do that cover a forest floor, hiding the path we would tread to reach the other side of an unknown wood.
Two enormous oak trees in my backyard stand as solemn reminders of this truth to me. While I rejoice in the first appearing of tiny leaf buds in the spring, rest in the leafy shade of their mighty canopies in the summer, and revel in the gold of their autumn greatness, I dread the morning that greets me with a knee high carpet of leaves deposited all over my backyard. In fact, if it were not for the great team of leaf rakers that my family has proven to be, I’d almost certainly despair of ever again seeing the actual ground, buried as it was under the leafy mess.
There are times in our lives when we are so dangerously overwhelmed by events, responsibilities, worries, challenges, and opportunities that we can easily lose track of our path. And of course I use the expression “path” with a very specific reference in mind. All Christians have but one Path which they must follow… Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 that He is “the Way”. In practical terms, that means that we first come to grips with the fact that our identity is wrapped up in His role as Savior and Lord. He alone secures for us atonement with the Father. To Him alone has been given the keys to victory for every man, woman, and child for both this life and the life that follows the failing of our mortal frames. Faith in Him alone is the way to the Father.
The fact that He is the Way also means that every decision that we make, every goal that we set for ourselves, and every means to the accomplishing of any of our plans is subject to His approval. In other words, do our attitudes and actions reflect the fact of our roles as servants to Jesus as King? Or do we reserve for ourselves the right to “call the shots”? Are we taking each day to the altar of our God our actions and thoughts? Or are we rationalizing a daily habit of serving ourselves in our dealings, whether great or small? If so, then we have lost our Way under the cluttering leaves of earthly distractions.
While we may rest in God’s ability to “hold onto us” in regard to our salvation, what becomes vulnerable to loss is the daily fruitfulness that He desires to glean from our lives for an eternity that is only just beginning and lasts far, far longer than will this planet.
What about you? Have you found the “Path?” Do your feet walk along the “Way?” Has your future in heaven been secured the only way that it can be, by placing your faith in God’s Son as Savior?
If so, then the question is slightly different. Do your feet of faith walk on the sure footing that daily obedience in Jesus can supply you? Or are you wandering far and wide, scuffling through the leaves of the distractions of life, not sure that your next step isn’t into a pit of disaster and loss? If your feet aren’t where they ought to be, be assured that if you will return your heart to His keeping, that He’ll rake clear a path for your feet today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.
“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through Him are believers in God, Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter1:20-23 ESV).