What Few Leaves Remain

I recently found myself with some materials ready for return to the library, and so, like always, I weighed the pros and cons of walking versus simply driving.

Yes, part of the route provides some decent, up-hill cardio. Shame to waste that. Yet, opting for that one hour’s exercise becomes instant regret whenever snowplows have covered the sidewalks with high, lumpy, crusty mounds, or whenever that sharp wind blows bitterly down the mountain through every gap and thread of too-thin-a-coat. Yet again, too-thick-a-coat leaves me soaked at the conclusion of that cardio climb. However, I can sometimes get away with peeling layers during the ascent on windless days. Hmm… 28 degrees outside. Decisions, decisions.

If only I too could count on the pay off of that sensation some refer to as runner’s high; that endorphin-rush consolation offered after prolonged exertion, then perhaps I wouldn’t bother working so hard to plot the path of least discomfort. Oh well. C’est la vie.

I looked out the window, and all seemed perfectly still. Perhaps a lighter jacket then? No. Better not chance it. But, I will skip the hat and gloves this time. That seems a fair bet. …Boy, was I wrong!

Unrelenting, icy blades of air blasted straight down the road right through every zipper and button hole. Ears stinging, hands in pockets, I lowered my head and whispered to Jesus who is always with me, “You are my strength.” Then, I marched forward at a surprisingly brisk pace against that stiff headwind the whole way up the mountain, yet still too cold to break a sweat. And when I turned that right angle onto a side street, that head wind followed after me. It seemed deliberate. It seemed personal. It made me angry.

Frustrated, I thought, “But, when I looked outside to gauge the weather, barely a breeze was evident. Even as I look around me, nothing much is moving. Why? Is the wind only targeting me?” Just then, Jesus’ Holy Spirit; that still, small, Voice of peace and wisdom from deep inside, showed me why in a flash.

He let me know that on this particular winter’s day, I was experiencing a parable of the times we are now entering. The whole world is falling into a kind of wintry darkness, as satan gradually applies more and greater pressure against mankind through every world system and power under his influence and control. Only those hard of heart and stiff necked can stand against this wind in their own strength, which is why, from a worldly perspective, they appear firmly planted and enviably successful. When observing them, these ones still visible in this scene, we see no evidence of the wind.

As for the rest, all those softhearted, lost ones who are the leaves through which we could have better gauged the wind, its cold blast has, or soon will prove to be too much for them, and they will all dry up and be blown away into gutters and piles, huddled, waiting, crying, made to feel like failures, their hearts also at risk of growing cold and ruthless.

Yet, there are still others who remain, those few, those loving few who rely on Jesus and no other for their strength, who never cease in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13), who pray that the light of love in them never go out. These are the Kingdom’s ambassadors, the beloved of the Lord. These, the Lord makes to stand out, like a lone leaf among the stiff, bare branches, miraculously still green in the face of winter’s unrelenting blast, a spectacle to behold. For, God would not hide His lamps under a basket, but place them on a stand where all can see His light (Matthew 5:15).

If you should find yourself among the faithless lost, made shriveled, dry and powerless, blown loose and tossed away by the world’s relentless, icy wind, please, never give up hope. Even though you may not yet believe, Jesus is still going to come for you, and nothing is going to stop Him. You’ll see.

…and to you, beloved; those few green leaves that remain, take heart. Keep hold your place in this race of endurance despite the growing wind, and let your heart-light shine ever on. For, you know and love the One called Faithful from whom your strength comes, and at the finish line, His face shall be your dawn.

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