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Teaching Leaves

Anita and I have just returned from a trip we take every Fall. We go away for two weeks, usually, and do two things. The first week is my annual study week. This is a time to think, write and study until my heart is content. It is always an amazing week of discovery. The second week is for playing. We go to antique shops, do Christmas shopping and spend a lot of time driving around looking at the Fall foliage. We can stay up late or get up early, whatever we choose. It is usually a relaxing time.

Last year, even though we went in the latter half of October, we missed the changing of the leaves. So, we decided then that we would delay the trip another week this year to ensure that we would be in the area when the foliage change was at its peak. WRONG! Can you believe it? We went a week later, mind you, and the leaves were barely changing.

Fortunately, it turned off cold and energized the process a bit. There was a change beginning but we were unsure that it would peak while we were still there. Every day or two we would venture out for a little bit and take a peek from an overlook area and see if there was any change. We were not excited with what we saw. It seemed that the changes were slow in coming. I guess we should have left two weeks later. Finally, the last few days we were there we could see a real difference showing up along the sides of the mountains. It was beautiful, but not yet breathtaking. It was still enjoyable, but not all it could be.

We came home a day or two early and what did we see? We saw more color at home than we did there. Now go figure. Since our return, the colors at home are now breathtaking. I will take a different route home today just to get another glimpse from a higher hill. We thought we had the timing figured out, but it did not work according to our plans.

As we grieved a bit over the slowness of the foliage changes, I though about the activity of God. How many times have I beseeched Him for something in my life or the life of another and did not seem to receive it in time? How many times had I worked, trying to walk in His will, thinking something would happen that did not seem to come to pass at the right time? How many times had I prayed for someone who was sick only to watch them die because the sickness did not turn around in time? Timing has everything to do with my plans, but His timing is not in my control.

I studied the leaves one day and pondered these issues. God did not change the leaves when I figured He would. I even calculated it and went a week later and there was still no change. God’s timing and my timing do not run on the same clock. I cannot make the leaves change. That’s something He does. I cannot control the growth of a congregation. He does. I cannot control a sickness in someone’s body. That is His department. His timing is set by Him alone and it is not manipulated by me or any other person on the face of this earth. All of a sudden, I am standing in the presence of Teaching Leaves. They were hanging from the limbs of trees, extended by the branches, waving in the wind and saying, you are not in control of anything, my dear boy. This job belongs to a more powerful One than you. You may come and inspect His work anytime you wish, but we will only change when He gives us the word.

My study time was not what I wanted it to be. It was too slow and not productive enough to suit me. I almost felt cheated. I needed that time and I needed that filling, just like I needed to see those leaves change. I spent the time filling my soul on His Word, but it did not rush back out of me in ordered ceremony. I wanted to spend one week and walk away with that which would see me through the following months. It did not happen. It was not time.

The trees are still swaying in the wind and the time has now come. Changes are happening all around. So, I think I will just go out and raise my limbs into the wind and wait for God to do the changing. In His time I will know what He’s taught me. In His time that which seems so ordinary to me now will break forth in brilliant color.

His timing is not my timing… nor yours.