As leaves begin their slow fade from luscious shades of green into hues of yellow, orange, red and brown, my soul feels the eclipse of time... the weight of yesterdays and shoulda-coulda-wouldas and change. My children, now grown, adults and nearly, puzzle and comment at the challenges and struggles they watch me face: "But isn't this degrading?"... the unspoken implication: why don't you quit... why do you allow such challenges when you could be happier, freer, more full of hope?
But God doesn't promise us a life devoid of challenge. As a matter of fact, both the Bible and church history are replete with examples of challenges, both small and large, faced by each devout follower. These same messages are often also full of inspiration as each challenged individual is strengthened, encouraged and, at times, even overcoming the walls which threaten to stand in their way.
It isn't the end, rather, it is a call to rise and grow and be strengthened.
The challenge for a leafing tree isn't letting go.... it is holding on when winter sets in, full of hope, and rising again. It can take strength to let go... but even more so does our strength and ambition grow when we rise to the challenge and keep going.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
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