I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. --- 2 Timothy 4:7, 8
These days in south central Pennsylvania have been a blaze of striking color everywhere we look – yellow, orange, red and the blending of these colors. Some of our trees are still in stubborn fashion hanging on to the traditional green color of spring and summer. A fully loaded maple in our front yard (as pictured above) is a mix of yellow, orange and a bit of green here and there.
Our weather has been quite mild and today is a cloudy day which makes the colors even more brilliant in the absence of direct sunlight. As I sat on my front porch in my comfortable La-Z-Boy rocker that I got at a yard sale for $5.00, I observed the leaves exhibiting their one last hurrah.
As they left the trees to which they had been attached since spring they headed for the ground. But the descent was not a dead stone-like drop straight down. The motion was varied – a twirl in a circle, a spin, a topsy-turvy tumble, or a smooth aircraft type of glide which may carry the leaf many feet from the tree to which it had been attached for a few months.
Is that not a bit of what life is like? The leaves experienced many conditions during their brief lifetime of a few months – blazing hot sun, high winds, drenching rain and vicious thunderstorms and sometimes the days of calm and quiet – but they hung on and now it’s time to go out in a blaze of glory!
A Christian is the only person on the face of this planet who goes through a wide variety of experiences – the storms of life and the times of quiet calm with the assurance that future glory is ahead as promised by the Lord Jesus Christ in His eternal Word.
Comparisons to natural situations do have their limitations – for the leaves, that last glorious colorful flight ends on the ground with the leaf drying up and eventually crumbling into lifeless pieces. But with the Christian, the exit from this life on earth means an entrance to a status of glory and honor.
No person could state it any better than the apostle Paul when he said, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” And we who have chosen to follow Jesus are included in that sweeping declaration!
Having lived for a little over three quarters of a century and having served as a pastor for nearly 50 years of that time, those leaves I have been watching have a way of reminding me that glory, by the grace and mercy of my Lord, lies straight ahead! It is my responsibility to keep hanging on and to continue to fulfill the calling that Jesus Christ has extended to me to preach and teach His Word!
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. --- Colossians 3:1-4