If you look out the window here at The Faith Cafe, you can see the beautiful autumn leaves in the park next to us (remember, we’re a virtual cafe, so use your mind’s eye).

We’re fortunate in Toronto to live in a part of the world where the green leaves of summer change to spectacular colours of yellow, orange, red, purple and bronze during fall. If you ask many people here, they’ll say fall is their favourite season, and the gorgeous changing leaves play a big part in that.

I love the radiant yellows and the intense oranges of the changing leaves. But my favourites have to be the flaming reds. Red is vibrant and exciting, the colour of love and passion. On a sunny day the beauty of a massive maple tree ablaze with red leaves can take your breath away.

But what most people don’t know is that, for the most part, the leaves don’t actually change colour. Rather, most of the warm colours were there all along, and are merely being revealed in the fall.

During the growing season, the green colour produced by chlorophyll dominates in the leaves, masking the other pigments. But as the tree prepares for winter, the chlorophyll decreases. The masking effect of the green fades away, and the yellow and orange pigments can now be seen. You may know these pigments as carotenoids: they’re what give carrots, egg yolks and daffodils their colour. They were actually present in the leaves all year, but are only revealed in the fall.

The red colours in autumn leaves are a different story; the pigment that produces them is called anthocyanin. This same pigment is responsible for the characteristic red colour of strawberries, cherries and red apples. Unlike the yellow and orange pigments, though, the red pigment in leaves is only produced during the special circumstances of fall.

Sometimes, we find it hard to believe that God loves us. But like the yellow and orange colours in the leaves, God’s love for us has been there all along.
It’s there in His provision for us: how He waters the earth so it produces food for us. It’s there in His goodness toward us. It’s there in His common grace toward all humankind.

God’s love for us is always present, but sometimes we allow other things to “mask” it. We focus on our busy lives, and don’t give much thought to God. Sometimes it takes a change in the season of our lives to make us stop and realize that God has always loved us. Maybe we couldn’t see it initially, maybe we took His love for granted, but it was there all along, like the yellows and oranges in the leaves.

But God’s most intense love for us, like the reds of the autumn leaves, is a different story. It took a special set of circumstances to produce it.

To show His unimaginable love for us, God chose the colour red. He decided to enter human history as a man, Jesus Christ. He died for us on the cross to atone for our sins. His shed blood was red like the autumn leaves, burning with love and passion for humankind. God loved us and proved it: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That fact should take our breath away.

God’s love for us was there all along, written in red. Can you see it?

© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell

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