I always used to drag my feet into fall; and I failed to understand those who ran to meet the crisp air and the shedding trees. Fall meant one thing to me: cold. It meant that a chill would enter my bones and I wouldn’t thaw out till mid-July.
But then I married one of those autumn-lovers. A guy who loves to climb mountains, rappel down them head-first, and drive his Jeep with the top off in only his shorts and a long-sleeve shirt—in thirty degree weather! (Can you imagine?)
Being married changes people. Steve drinks his coffee black, but he’s also learned to appreciate a fine Earl Grey. And I, I love autumn. Yes, I still get cold. But Steve has taught me to marvel at this extravagant display of God’s glory--the brilliant colors, the migrating birds, the smell of wood-fires, and yes, even the nippy weather. All the sounds and sights and smells of fall, were intended for our enjoyment, but also as an arrow, a marker, a reminder: pointing us to God.
As John Piper writes in his book When I Don’t Desire God: "Joy in God can be awakened by the physical display of God's glory, and that very joy enters and transforms the physical experience of it" (p. 185).
Scripture reveals to us a secret…something we otherwise would never know: the wonders of nature are incessantly speaking to us, urging us to find our joy in God:
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Ps. 19:1-4).
This portion of a poem by Anne Bradstreet entitled Contemplations is one woman’s experience of this truth. It may need a second reading to be fully absorbed, but it’s worth the effort. (Note: Phoebus refers to Apollo, or the sun.)
Sometime now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o're by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seem'd painted but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
How excellent is he that dwells on high? We cannot comprehend. And yet, we can see a glimmer of His glories here on earth--in autumn.