Ethan Pyle: All things in nature point to the grand redemption story of new life through death.
As I walk along, gravel crunching beneath my boots, the mist obscures the path ahead. I don’t mind the lack of sight. It reminds me that I can’t see the future but don’t have to, because I have faith that God sees all. I employ my other senses to experience the beauty of this morning, a morning created by God. The birds are just beginning their morning routines. I can hear them calling to each other, sending messages I can’t decipher—but God knows. The gravel gives way to the softer crunch of leaves. In their crisp death, they speak to me of the new life that is already forming in the branches above me—of Life through death. . .
Funny how God weaves these themes throughout his creation—almost as if he doesn’t want us to forget. Now, as I enter the forest, I can smell the season. The scent of leaf mould fills my nostrils. I breathe deeply. The trees are covering the forest floor with a blanket of leaves, tucking it in for its long winter sleep. Come spring, the dead leaves will provide nutrients for all the new green growing things. Life through death. . .
I make my way to a bench I haven’t visited in years. The path is much narrower now; I savor the wildness of it. It’s still dark, so I sit to wait for the sun. The bench is wet with the morning dew, but I don’t mind my jeans getting damp. As the light grows, the colors begin to reveal themselves. Fiery reds, rusty browns, vibrant yellows and oranges, and mature greens: a painting straight from the hands of God—unrivaled.
I sit quietly, trying to take in the glory of the Great Creator’s handiwork. The shapes of the trees, some young, straight, and tall, some old and writhing through the untold years of their existence; the sounds of a squirrel rummaging for its winter store; the journey of a falling leaf as it meanders its way to the forest floor, the smell of an autumn morning: all these things serve as reminders of the Father’s glory.
It’s getting lighter now; the fire of the leaves echoes the line of fire newly kindled across the horizon. I pull out my Bible, intending to let my soul be filled with the glory of the Psalms. Instead, my Bible falls open to the last few chapters of Job, and I begin reading:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued forth out of the womb?”
“And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but not further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”
“Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know its place?”
“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast seen the treasures of the hail?”
“Knowest thou the ordinances of the heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”
(Job 38: 4, 7-8, 12, 22, 33 KJV)
Oh, the glory of God’s word mingled with the glory of God’s creation! I am moved to tears.
It’s getting lighter still, but the sun has not yet broken loose. I begin to walk again. I come to some steps with a handrail that has been worn to reveal a beautiful milky core beneath the rough brown exterior. I am reminded of the trials God uses to polish us, removing our rough exterior to reveal the purity of Christ’s life within. Another lesson. . .
A spider tickles my chilly nose with the web it has flung across the path. As I crest the hill, I see the glow that betrays dawn bursting through the trees ahead. I quicken my pace to reach the clearing, where I can gaze upon the glory of this new morning. On my way, I notice the brilliant red of a young sumac, contrasting with the rich brown of the leaves on the forest floor surrounding it—even the poison ivy has turned a delightful shade of crimson.
Then, I am there. As I stand at the top of the hill, the view that greets me is beyond description. Yet I must try to describe this beauty I see: the blinding sun has just broken over the horizon, the field below is still shrouded in a silvery mist, the rays of the newly risen sun ignite the trees to a flame of color. I marvel.
Making my way home, I pass the dead heads of some wild alliums, knowing they contain the seeds that will be next July’s nodding purple flowers. Life through death. . . Again.
I can’t take in the wonder of the beauty, of the knowledge that life springs from death. I am flooded with sensations, emotions, thoughts. Still, through these I see the glory of the Great Creator, my Redeemer. I love him, because he first loved me. I give him my life, because he gave me that life through his sacrifice on the cross. And there on Calvary I see it again, the supreme example: life through death.
Ethan Pyle is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist University where he studied theology, literature, and his favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien. In his free time, he engages with literature, art, and music. He looks forward to attending St. John’s College for an MA in Liberal Arts in 2017.