Fall. A Lesson in Letting Go. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

—John Muir

This past weekend, I was afforded the beautiful opportunity to go backpacking and complete the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. I have been chipping away at chunks of the Appalachian trail, but due to restrictions with COVID, I was forced into exploring, essentially, my backyard. I use the term “forced” lightly, because I have truly enjoyed what quarantining/covid has revealed to me. Things that were right before my eyes…right under my nose…that are so incredibly beautiful. Last week, I talked about the motorcycle principle of “look where you want to go”’, which still holds perfectly true. But. I want to remind you to take a second to stop. Stop your mind, your thinking, your work, and your body and be present. Be right where you are. When I think about Jesus, I am in awe at how incredibly present and intentional he was with everyone in His presence. He knew his purpose. He knew what was ahead. He was on a mission. But. He listened. He heard. He looked people in the eye. He wept when you wept. The best present in all of humanity, was and continues to be entirely present with humanity.

While I was hiking, I began kicking myself for not planning the backpacking trip two weeks ago when the trees were still hanging on to their foliage. Then, I felt the sun beating on me. And stopped. What an incredible day. The trees, while mostly bare, starting to speak to me. And I felt the Son shining down on me. (Yes. I’ve FALLen victim to talk about FALL and trees one more time…)

I’ve always appreciated the quote, “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” That was impressed upon my heart as I was walking through the woods. Letting go can be a tricky thing. While we know some of those things we hold on to may not be good for us, we still continue to focus on all the good parts/memories. Letting go can sometimes erroneously translate into our hearts as forgetting something or someone we don’t want to forget. See, the trees have this down to a science. Literally. The leaves are the trees source of food and energy processing throughout the late spring, summer, early fall. But as the weather and climate begins to change for late fall and winter, the leaves are not getting the necessary light and energy that it needs to give to the tree. The tree recognizes this process and creates an abscission and begins to look inwardly. The word abscission shares the same Latin root word as that in scissors, scindere, which means “to cut.” The tree understands that in order to grow, it must release and let go, and go into a period where it must look inwardly for its nourishment. It must endure a winter.

I’ve said this before, but as we celebrate the leaves in their glorious beauty, they are actually dying. I don’t say that to be negative, I say that because it is a beautiful reminder—It is not an end. Those leaves, while they were let go, continue to give back. They are a reminder that the old has passed and all things have become new again. Letting go is necessary for growth. The tree in all of its wisdom knows this. By FULLY letting go, it trusts the process, and in its new season begins to sprout even more leaves than it had before. Letting go of past hurts, relationships, loved ones, dreams, …, can be hard. But not letting go can be very hurtful. It can stunt your growth. It can make you overlook things…or miss the things that are right under your nose. More importantly, letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. I think that’s where we can often get stuck, because we want to hang on to some of those memories, or even the hurts. Hurts can easily become excuses. Letting go takes work. The leaves don’t just fall off…they go through a beautiful process…and even after they are let go…they die to self, decompose, and give back to the soil that continues to nourish the tree. And they live on. Things that have happened to us won’t just go away. Good or bad. They make us who we are, but they don’t define us. You define who you are. Use past things to propel you forward. To be the gas to your fire. Fully let go. Trees don’t just let some leaves go…they let them all go.

Christ does an amazing thing for us. He reminds us of what a beautiful creation we are. How we are all a new creation in Him. And he reminds us that he has let go of our past. He took it upon himself to let go of your past sins, hurts, pains, mistakes to make you new. He took it upon himself to let go of the actions of the people who wronged you. He wiped it all away. He also wiped away all of your tears. And wept as you wept. He knows what your heart longs for and longs for your heart to know what is in store for you. Imagine being able to comprehend someone’s sadness and pain, all the while knowing the glory that is in store. If I saw someone crying while fully knowing exactly what their brilliant future looked like, I would tell them to pick their bootstraps up and get going. I guess that’s why God is God…and I am not. Thank God!

Remember that you are a new creation in Christ. We will continue to go through seasons in our life so we can grow; keeping in mind that Christ wants his kingdom to grow. He allows seasons to happen so we can grow and flourish.

Think about the leaves on your tree. What thoughts, events, hurts, people, relationships do you need to let go? Good or bad. We often have to let go of things that we so fondly think of or remember, otherwise it will hold us back. My grandma’s passing was a reminder that I cannot sit and dwell on the loss of her. I had to let it go. It was out of my control. But. I will never forget her. She continues to live on through me and in me. In fact, she would want me to move on past the grieving process. I have the choice to define myself in letting her legacy carry on through me. The leaves want the tree to let them go. I have had to let go of past relationships…dreams and hopes of a future that I fashioned in my mind with that person. A death of a dream can be staggering to let go of…but I may just miss what is on the horizon. The spring ahead that is likely far better than I can imagine. . In fact, the good Lord has immeasurably more than what we could ever fathom. Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” And, Amen! Take a minute to be grateful for those leaves on your tree. They have served their purpose. Thank them. They provided a season in your life that has allowed you to flourish and to become the amazing human that you are. Never forget your roots and leaves that brought you to where you are. Be grateful. Let go. Fully. Let God take over. Let Him have control. Focus inwardly and upwardly. Reach for new growth. Embrace the change. Embrace the seasons. Embrace the sun. Embrace the Son.

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