It’s fall, y’all, and fall is my favorite season on the year — at least, right now it’s my favorite. Morning walks in the neighborhood are crisp. It gets light later and dark earlier. Football is in the air. The deciduous trees in our part of the world are bursting with color.
Sunday afternoon: That morning, I had the privilege of preaching for my friend Pastor Scott Watson. Scott was in a bind. He was bent over in pain, having stones in a kidney. So he sent a text, and I was happy to fill in.
Then Sammie and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive across the mountains to Boone, North Carolina, for a late lunch at Dan’l Boone Inn. My grandmother used to say there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Well, there’s more than one way to get to Boone from Bristol. Another spur-of-the-moment decision, and we turned left on US 321 in Hampton, drove along Watauga Lake then across the mountains. What a beautiful choice.
The leaves were barely beginning to turn around Bristol, but as we skirted the lake then crept over the curvy mountain road into North Carolina, we were surrounded by the blazing beauty of all the autumn colors imaginable.
Looking from one tree to the next, gazing across valleys to magnificent ridges, we pointed and gasped at the splendor, but uttered precious few words. Finally, breaking the silence, Sammie spoke, “It looks like someone took a paint brush to the forest.”
“Indeed,” I responded, reverently. “God did.”
Just call me Captain Obvious.
Following a delicious meal, a short nap in the car (remember, it was Sunday afternoon), and a quick stop at Mast General Store, we headed for home. We opted to skin the cat a different way back to Bristol and returned by way of Mountain City, Tennessee, and Damascus, Virginia. Again we were pleased with our choice.
Between Laurel Bloomery and Damascus, our route led us through a golden tunnel as maple, elm, hickory, and poplar trees spread their branches over and around us and dropped a few of their leaves to the roadway, where they blew across the pavement as we passed. As we drove through that stretch of Cherokee National Forest, we were engulfed by the beauty of God’s creation. It was almost like driving through a post card.
The Psalmist penned the words, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”
Might I add that our little corner of Appalachia makes a pretty strong statement about the glory of the Creator, too. When the Psalmist proclaimed, “Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy … the mountain peaks belong to Him … He made them …,” he was probably not referencing Cherokee National Forest and the Appalachian Mountains.
But he coulda been.
And when the Psalmist tells us, “The LORD loves righteousness and justice, the earth is full of His unfailing love,” he is mainly referring to the people that inhabit his creation. But surely he also refers to all of creation. Still, it is amazing that the One who created the heavens and the earth loves you and me.
Always remember that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son to die in our place, so that believing in Him would make eternal life possible for us. When we have a personal relationship with Him, He makes us beautiful, too.
The preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, “He makes all things beautiful in His time...”
By the time you read these words, and depending on where you are, many of those beautiful leaves may be blanketing the earth instead of coloring your view. Hopefully, you will still have a chance to take in the reds, oranges, golds, maroons, and greens and allow them to remind you of God’s glory and His love.
Steve Playl — chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor — can be contacted at email@example.com.
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