The leaves are still on the tress – but not all of them. And here in my corner of God’s creation the weather today and the past few days is fall-like: cold, windy, grey. This morning I had to break down and turn on the furnace!
The turning of the weather means not enough light and water for the trees to photosynthesize. As the chlorophyll disappears the trees begin to live off their stored food, the leaves change color from greens to reds, browns, and yellows. And eventually most of them fall.
In the Scriptures a similar of rhythm of planting and harvesting, picking and pruning appears. After the harvest there is still work to do to prepare the fields and sometimes plants and trees for the next cycle of growth and fruitfulness. Jesus in John’s Gospel speaks about pruning of the vine:
“He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15:2 NRSV)
One of the truths that fall brings home to me is that some seasons of following Jesus are filled with excitement and progress and fruit. And others? There are seasons of gleaning and storing and pruning. In every season the trees are not the movers – they are the objects of the changing weather.
Fall more than any other season reminds us that the fruit in our character, lives, and ministry are not our work. It isn’t all us, all human effort. Like the trees, we are objects of the Holy Spirit’s tending and pruning. While we have work to do and prayers to pray and faith to keep, we are not the ones who bring the rain and sun and the wind.
We are the garden – not the gardeners.