If you live in an region where the trees drop their leaves in the fall, you’ll have noticed something.
Some species of trees are quick to cast off their leaves once the weather turns colder. In my area, the mountain ash trees are always the first to be denuded of leaves in October.
Other trees seem more reluctant to give up their leafy attire, holding on stubbornly until the frost and the wind finally make them release their grip. In my backyard, an old sugar maple is usually the laggard.
The most notorious holdouts, however, are immature beech trees. They retain their dried leaves through the whole winter, only dropping them when the new growth of spring finally forces the old leaves off the branches.
We can be a bit like young beech trees, too, I think.
We may hold on too long to something that isn’t working, despite evidence that we should let it go.
Or we may cling to a dream that is clearly unrealistic, even though God is trying to nudge us in a different direction.
Sometimes God is telling us that it’s time to turn over a new leaf, so to speak. He wants us to cast off outmoded ways of thinking and let go of unproductive ways of doing things.
He wants us to make room for Him to do something new in our lives.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43:19a NLT)
The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to take stock of our lives. In so doing, we may find that God is telling us that it’s time to do some things a bit differently than in the past.
I’m reminded of the famous section of Ecclesiastes 3 (which formed the basis for the lyrics of the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” in the 1960s):
“To everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to break down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to count as lost,
a time to keep and a time to discard,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
During this COVID season, we’ve certainly had to endure a “time to refrain from embracing,” haven’t we!
But I’d like to focus especially on verse 6, which says that there’s a right time to look for something, and a right time to consider it lost. There’s a right time to hold on and another to let go.
I think we’ve all lost something during the past year, haven’t we? Whether it’s a job, our hopes and expectations, or the semblance of a normal life, we’ve all had to count some things as lost in 2020.
But I think 2021 is the time to put past disappointments behind us and see what new things God has in store. No matter what we endured during the past year, God can restore us spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
God can build on the “stump” of the old year and infuse new growth into your life. He isn’t limited by what you’ve lost. Let’s stop clinging to a past “normal” which we might not be able to duplicate exactly in future.
Instead, let go and step forward with God into a new season of your life.
“But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13a-14 NLT)
Take a lesson from the trees: in order to make room for new growth, sometimes you have to turn over a new leaf!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.