Monday, October 17, 2016

Gratitude and letting go

Image from: Yoga Inspiration

Philippians 3:12-14 ESV

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

This autumn season is one of color, beauty and celebration and as we step into the month of November our focus shifts to the coming holiday of Thanksgiving; where we enjoy the bounty of the harvest season and the company of those we love. In the midst of these cooler days, the trees that were once full of leaves are beginning to grow thin. The leaves that were once green have changed to red, orange and yellow - and now they blanket the ground like confetti. 

As I think about this yearly cycle of life, I'm always impressed with the grace and flexibility of trees. Each year, every tree shifts from winter, to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn and finally back to winter. In the midst of living through these seasons of perpetual change, the tree continues to live - to grow and change. 

What if I could live my own life with such grace and flexibility, like the trees that line the streets where I live?

If I were to be more like this changeable tree, what would my life look like? 

This selection of verses from Philippians reminds me also of how God calls each of us to live each day with grace and flexibility. While this verse admits that as people we are imperfect, that in our imperfection, we are called to live life fully. That because of what God has done for us through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit - that we are freed to let go - to forget what is behind us - and press on to the season ahead.

The way that trees let go of their leaves, makes the process of letting go of the past look easy; but for people this process can be difficult. We long for what is familiar and for what is comfortable - and yet God calls us to keep looking forward, to press on, and to hear and live the call of a life that's been freed through Jesus.

While on the surface, trees let go of their leaves simply; we have to remember that each tree moves from season to season living with its leaves: nurturing in spring, blooming in summer, letting go in autumn, and preparing for new life to come all winter.When the time is right, the tree lets go of what is past - and moves on to what is to come in the cold of winter; because it knows that spring is coming after that. As we observe the falling of the leaves, we can see that the trees have some wisdom in how to live in freedom, grace and flexibility - just as our text in Philippians reminds us as well. We are called to live our lives in freedom - because of Jesus Christ - and to embrace each season for what it is. God calls us to live out each season fully - to nurture, to bloom, to let go, and to prepare; as it is appropriate. But in all seasons, God calls us to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." As we let go of the past, our lives are freed up and space is made the upward journey of the season to come.

Do not be afraid of letting go. We have so much to be thankful for. All of the colors of our lives are glorious, but new colors need a place to grow as well. The trees have shown us, just how beautiful letting go can be...because letting go makes room for new life, a new season and a new exciting life that is yet to come.

This autumn, consider how your gift of life is one to celebrate and how your unique gifts (time, talents, treasure) can bring color, grace, and beauty to those around you! When you give your gifts to others - you take part in the autumn dance of letting go and pressing on for what is to come, because the next season is already on its way here...

                                           Painting: Holding things lightly, by: T.L. Eastman