By Rev. Deanna Woodward
Maple Leaf Parish
United Methodist Churches of Cherry Grove, Fountain, Preston and Spring Valley
Fall is a favorite time of year for me and for many. There is nothing that surpasses a cool fall evening followed by a warm fall day, low humidity, and the sight of brilliant multi-colored leaves against a bright blue sky. I look forward to going on leaf-peeping tours, and spending an afternoon in an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch. It’s hard for any human artist to improve upon the supreme artistry of the Creator God as expressed in the beautiful colors of autumn.
Human emotions are sometimes described in terms of colors. Happiness is a sunny yellow. Jealousy and envy have been referred to as the “green-eyed monster.” Someone who is depressed is described as feeling blue, and despair must surely be a deep black. The lure of success and riches undoubtedly glitters like gold. Boredom and apathy color life a dull gray. Anger flares red.
Like the fall leaves and like our human emotions, the temptations and challenges we all face in life are varied. The New Testament word used to describe temptations means “many kinds” or “various.” “Count it all joy when you meet various trials,” it says in James 1:2. But the same descriptive word is also used in the New Testament concerning God’s grace. “Be good stewards of God’s varied grace,” it says in 1 Peter.
So it would be fair to say that for every temptation or trial we face, God has a color-coordinated grace to match it. When Christ was tempted by the devil, He used God’s word to resist. Christ spoke of praying for his disciple Peter when Peter was tempted. The scriptures speak of the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience and so on. Fruit is the product, but it also comes in a great variety of colors. The colorful Holy Spirit fruit growing in our lives is there to help nourish us in good times and bad.
God can use us as channels of grace to help others. God has given a variety of gifts to us, which we can use to help one another in challenging times. The Bible refers to gifts of love, hospitality, sharing God’s word and helping as ways to support someone in a time of need.
Trials and temptations can be complicated. But when we can’t see the way out, God can. “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer,” an old hymn reminds us. Many-colored temptations? Yes, but also many-colored grace to match them. Complicated situations? Yes, but God will reveal a path to follow. May the Great Artist, whose palette holds the many colors of grace, paint our lives with grace to match every challenge. Blessings to you in these autumn days.