After all, if you or I stood outside naked for several months in sub-zero temperatures, we’d soon be turned into frosty statues.
Trees can’t burrow into the ground and hibernate like bears, and they can’t fly south like migratory birds. They’re fixed in place, at the mercy of the elements.
And yet they somehow survive through the cold depths of winter. Why don’t they turn to ice, since, like other living things, they’re made mostly of water?
Their trick is something called “hardening.”
In autumn, trees in cold climates undergo a change whereby water flows out of their cells. The concentrated sugars, proteins, and acids left behind act as a potent antifreeze. The water now in the spaces between the cells is so pure that ice crystals can’t form. This ultra-pure water can be cooled to -40 degrees F and still remain an ice-free liquid.
Pretty cool, isn’t it?
But what is it that triggers the hardening?
Ah, this is where we can learn a lesson from the trees.
If you look out the (virtual) window here at The Faith Cafe, you can see the leaves starting to change colour on the trees outside.
The tops of the maple trees are starting to blush with red. There’s a hint of yellow among the linden leaves. And the sumacs are beginning to fire up in vivid shades of orange.
This change creeps in gradually, however. At first, you barely notice fall coming on. Weeks from now, though, the trees will be ablaze in vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. The difference from how they look today will be dramatic.
Oftentimes, I think this is the way God works in our lives.
He is slowly but surely leading us through a process of change and sanctification.
We may not notice that aspects of our character are being transformed, because the change is so gradual. One day, however, you look up and realize how far you’ve come and what amazing things God has done in your life.
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.