©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
Fall reminds us of the value of release – of letting go. As the leaves turn colors, change is taking place and prompting action. Leaves falling show us the need to release that which once brought oohs and aahs in order to make room for new growth! When the tree sheds its leaves, it drops those whose time have passed. Daylight and weather changes signal the coming of cold and dark days, and then efforts begin to push the leaves off in a type of self-protection and preparation for the budding and new beauty to come.
Release is vital for survival and future growth.
Even good things or positive activities may have passed their time or become wearying and burdensome in our lives. They may pull energy, time, and effort away from us that will be needed to survive cold, difficult, and dark times, and to thrive in the future.
Leaves swirling and blanketing the ground are reminders to release that which threatens to deplete strength, drain resources, and block future growth.
Many say COVID shutdowns helped them reevaluate and reprioritize activities, interests, and time. Now many of us are altering our rhythms of life, shedding some “hangers on” that would do us good to let go.
As we witness the shedding of the leaves, it’s a good time to examine whether we are willing to push energy-depleters in our lives aside to invite new growth as we seek to walk closer with God.
Good which we release can also be used for good for others.
In the process of letting go – especially of items (like the tree’s colorful leaves) that seem too precious to release – we pass on the pleasure. When we release excess clothing, housewares, and knick-knacks (as well as financial resources to those in need), what passes out of our hands and lives can become blessings to those who receive them.
Scripture relays stories of people who released something important to them, including two well known ones:
Think of the young boy who willingly gave up his five loaves of bread and two fish more than two thousand years ago. What delight the child must have experienced when he watched as Jesus the Christ multiplied the tiny serving of food to feed five thousand – with leftovers. John 6:1-15 NIV
And, what about the widow who gave up the pittance she had as an offering?
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. Mark 12:41-43 NIV
Release begins with change – but it’s change in the heart!
Like the tree preparing for the winter, we can continue to store up the nutrients of the Living Water found in Christ until it is time for us to bear fruit, drop seeds or sprout leaves.
Those dropped leaves also suppress weeds. And, as we reflect on what we let go in our lives – and celebrate what value it once added – we guard against unwanted pop-ups in our lives.
Fallen leaves also fertilize the soil and provide important habitats for insects, birds, frogs, and other wildlife. As they decay, they contribute to a welcoming environment for fireflies aka lightning bugs as mentioned in Is a Child (and Adult) Delight Diminishing?
We often hear about the ugly emotional and mental baggage we need to release – and that we do.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8 NIV
But it’s also true we can clutch too tightly what once brought enjoyment in our lives but may now be a distraction or detriment to future joys.
What might have once blazed with beauty in our lives, but now needs our release?
An organization? A tradition? An activity?
A sport? A hobby? A television program?
A closet full of stored possessions? A career of accomplishments? A computer full of social media?
A habit? A hunger for something that distracts us from following God’s purpose?
What is taking up time and effort that could be released?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Autumn is less about leaves falling, and more about trees freeing themselves to invite new growth.
Release for renewal. It’s a good lesson for life.
- When did you last dive into a pile of leaves? Stop to marvel at colors on the trees? Watch a leaf desperately clinging to a branch?
- What is your favorite type of leaf? Color?
- What can you release in your life that will help you grow stronger in your walk with the Lord?
- In what ways can changes to your life free up time and resources to best benefit from – and share – God’s Light?
- Is there anything tangible – or intangible – that you want to release before the end of the year?
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:4-6 NIV
Remember…Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™