Mid Life and Advent: Reflections From a Pile of Leaves
Two years ago, I began entering into what some call the ‘autumn of life.’ The reality of mid-life left me feeling as though I was sinking in my own pile of leaves – a series of family relationships, friendships, more than 25 years of hard work, six years of college, and yes, even ministry efforts that seemed fruitless now. All wrinkled and dry, those leaves of the past were gone and could not be put back on the trees of my life. Yet, no matter how tempting it seemed, I knew I could not sit down there in midst of the pile and examine each and every shriveled leaf, wishing it were not so. It simply was what it was: autumn. And spring time was a long way off.
That early December morning, the grace of God broke through. My autumn reality collided with Advent, which is the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. Vulnerable and broken as my life felt, I remembered our Savior and how very much in need I was at that moment for the truth of the Word of God made flesh and how He came to dwell among us. As I read the account of the nativity in the gospels, the gentleness and pureness of the Christ’s birth was made alive to me. God’s gift came to us, wrapped in the meekest and most precious of packages we could ever receive. His one and only son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a newborn babe, had come to me.
In that celebration of the first coming of Christ, I was reminded that our God is the Lord of new seasons and new birth. I longed for the time when even those poor, old, tattered, naked and vulnerable trees would again be made new: growing bright and adorned with new beautiful leaves, as they experienced their new seasons of life. Even more importantly, the tatters of my own broken life were being made new and covered with Christ’s own righteousness, which was better than any of the leaves sown in this world. It was when I realized that my leaves would never be sufficient and that it was Christ’s righteousness alive in me that matters, that the autumn of my life turned the corner to Advent.
Today, the seeds of a new, glorious season are being pressed into the soil of my life and the very presence of Christmas is made real every day that I remember the Truth.
by Deb Welch
(I owe Paul Tripp a debt of gratitude for the leaves metaphor here. He uses it in one of the chapters of his book, “Lost in the Middle: Mid Life and the Grace of God.”)