You may recall that we’d had a tree issue for nearly the last nine years. One of the most frustrating aspects however that has remained tree or not, is the fact that we live on the side whereby the leaves from the opposite side of the street blow in our yard. This doesn’t seem to be a problem in the winter, spring and summer, but in the fall, Jesus be a leaf blower! They are everywhere! Before we rake up a bag or two and go in the house for a rest, it looks as though our work was in vain. There are yet again, leaves galore! A portion of me is a bit frustrated by this because I’m thinking, I’ve got to clean those up and those aren’t my leaves! Yet we live in community, and sometimes someone else’s mess becomes yours to clean up. It ain’t pretty, but it’s true.
Being in community and connected with others means that we must occasionally bear each other’s tribulation. Sometimes, people don’t even realize that they are projecting their issues on you, and other times, sad to say, it may be done intentionally, because it’s easier to create opportunity for someone else to assume responsibility for our shortcomings than to put our big people pants on and walk through our fire into our destiny. I’ve been in many situations whereby God was orchestrating a message for me while maneuvering through someone else’s mess. It was difficult and through my unspoken thoughts, I let God know that I wasn’t happy with his decision. Of course, God being sovereign didn’t give a flying fig about my preference, because he sees the ending while I am just attempting to collect my bearings for understanding the starting point. In fact, true be told, God could just as quickly turn around and tell me that the situations I get myself into are “not his leaves” so to speak. Nevertheless, he is with us! Isaiah 46:4 affirms: “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Nowhere in the Word does God say, “that’s not my problem!”
Many people are in a time of reflection as the year comes to a close. Perhaps you are one of the ones who is celebrating many goals being attained; or you may be one who is carrying over 2016 goals into 2017 with a strong perspective that your “fallen short” may be the result of someone else. Its futile to stay in this state. I didn’t go across the street to complain about the leaves showing up on our side, in our yard. We could leave the leaves as is, or we can elect to do the work that is required to experience the outcome we desire. Raking the leaves gives opportunity to get some exercise in, to build stamina and make things better. The same is true in life. Taking on a task that seemingly was not designed for us will stretch and grow us in underdeveloped and withered spaces in our faith. We must desire to get to the place of trusting God and not ourselves. Proverbs 11:28 reads, “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” Righteous for us does not equate with perfection. Even our best effort will not enable us to attain such a status. However it does represent our desire to do what is right, what is good.
I always understood the falling of leaves to represent the change of the season. That is true. Yet I did not know that the purpose for leaves falling off of a tree is linked to survival. The process allows the tree to endure the difficult elements of winter. If we choose not to dwell upon the impact of others upon us, and instead to our role inextricably linked to their survival, we may find less difficulty in the collection of “someone else’s leaves.” We may instead assume the joy of children playing in fallen leaves, and celebrate the changing of season in another’s life, as well as ours.