Trees along the road to the Microsoft Campus, Redmond, WA

Dying to live

 

The trees up here are all changing colors, which is a nice difference from home. And I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear as I walked yesterday looking at the trees and all their brilliant shades of yellow and gold and red and orange. Natives probably thought I was bonkers.

But the one thought that kept circling my mind is the irony of autumn, because we ooo and ahh over the changing colors of the leaves even though that means the trees are pretty much shutting down for the winter. They’re going to sleep so they can wake up again in spring.

I think autumn is one of my favorite symbols of the new life we have in Jesus as Christ followers.

Trees along the road to the Microsoft Campus, Bellevue, WA

Trees along the road to the Microsoft Campus, Bellevue, WA

Today’s verse is Galatians 2:20.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Death isn’t something we really like to think about. It’s usually surrounded by sorrow and tragedy, but death is a part of life. And as a Christ follower, death is something to look forward to. Jesus said time and time again during His stint on Earth that if people wanted to follow Him, they had to die to self.

What does that even mean? Die to self? Be crucified with Christ? They’re very beautiful pictures, but from a practical standpoint, what do they mean?

Practically speaking, at least the way I understand it, it means to say no to what your old self would have done and say yes to what Christ is telling you to do, what the Bible says to do. It means to live the way the Bible says. It means to conduct your business and your life as though you were Christ’s representative on Earth–which, actually, you are.

I think it’s interesting that we have to die before we can really live for something. Like the trees, if we want to live again in spring, we need to die in autumn.

If you have chosen to believe in Christ, you are a new creation. The person who you used to be is gone, and God has given you a new life now. So you don’t have to make the same old choices you made before. You can start over, just like springtime.

So the next time you see a tree blazing in the brilliant colors of autumn, remember that if you follow Christ, you’re dead to yourself and alive to live for Him. And with Him, you’ll never die again. 

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God’s faithfulness endures even though the seasons change

Summer is a fun time of year when you’re a little kid. There’s no school. You can run around outside and play. You can go to the zoo. You can eat ice cream and Popsicles and snow cones. Picnics in the park and swimming at the pool.

Summer as an adult isn’t as much fun because work doesn’t let out for the summer . . . well, if you’re a teacher it does. So maybe teachers feel differently about summer than I do. Summer for me is honestly a hassle, but I’m not a hot weather person so that probably adds to my general dislike of the season. And if we’re talking about this summer? This summer in Kansas was the hottest summer in history–50+ days over 100. And not just 102 or 103 . . . 113. So my electric bills for cooling have been ridiculous, even though I leave the house set on 85 or 90 most of the time. The only part of summer I really enjoy is that I can take my shoes off . . . when I’m not at work.

It’s funny because winter is the same way, although I like winter better than summer. When you’re a kid, winter is a magical time of year when you can see your breath and you can rejoice when it snows. And sometimes if it snows enough, school will close and you stay home and drink hot chocolate all day long.

Winter as an adult lost its allure for me the first time I had to dig my car out of a snow bank on the way to work . . . . and then it became a hassle when I had to drive my normal 45 mile drive to work on black ice, which took me two hours one way, and I had to do it at 5:30 in the morning to get to work on time . . . twice. Winter as an adult means snow removal, expensive clothes, shoes, and propane bills that skyrocket.

Granted, winter means Christmas, and that makes me happy. And I enjoy the snow when it first starts to fall. And if it snows on a day that I don’t have to go anywhere, I’ll turn right into a little kid.

But I think there are seasons in our lives that are like summer and winter. Long. Uncomfortable. Expensive. Too much to handle. Overwhelming, when life just saps all the strength you have and you’re too weak to stand up. Barren, when life drains out of all your efforts and it’s all you can do to believe that something is going to grow again.

But I believe God gives us seasons in our lives just as He gives us seasons on our planet.

Today’s verse is Joel 2:23.

23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!
      Rejoice in the Lord your God!
   For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness.
      Once more the autumn rains will come,
      as well as the rains of spring.

Spring can be hot and muggy, but there’s something spectacular about watching the world come back to life again. It always helps me remember that winter doesn’t last forever.

But by far, my favorite season is fall. It saddens some people because the trees turn brown and lose their leaves, but to me, it’s a reminder that everything changes. And it reminds me that no matter what stage of life I’m in, autumn is always going to come–regular as clockwork. And although I don’t really like change, I love autumn. There’s a chill in the air and the smell of pumpkin in all the stores I go into. It’s a time to bake and it’s a time to be with family. It’s not too cold, and it’s not too hot. I can still go barefoot, but sometimes I need a jacket.

For me, with every change of the season comes a time to rejoice. Because the one constant in life is that everything changes, except God. Though every part of our lives may turn upside down and all the way around, God remains the same. He is faithful.

No matter what season of life you’re in, God is there. If you’re in the spring and everything is new and exciting and fresh, He’ll walk beside you and show you new things you’ve never seen before.

If you’re in the summer and you’re tired of being tired and worn down and exhausted, He’ll carry you.

If you’re in the autumn and life is about to change, He’ll be with you, preparing you to face the challenges to come . . . without you knowing it for the most part.

And if you’re in the winter and you’re discouraged because your life feels bleak and barren, He’ll be there reminding you that life goes on. And trusting Him will give you strength to face the cold until spring comes again.

But no matter what part of life you’re in, He’s faithful. He never leaves us. He never abandons us. And He sends little reminders to help us see Him when we forget to look for Him. Like rain. Like sunshine. Like a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks . . . . =) . . . . Well, to each his own.

So rejoice. Today is a new day, and God will show Himself to you if you let Him.