Growing up in the Maritimes is totally different than growing up on the Prairies. Chances are, you probably know that. But if you grew up on the Prairies, you probably didn’t know what you were missing when the season of Fall came circling around as it so faithfully does each and every year. “What did I miss?”, you ask? I’ll tell you. Leaves. But not just any leaves. RED leaves. At this point, you’ve probably rolled your eyes and exited this webpage. But…on the hopeful chance that you haven’t, bear with me. I promise I’ll make a good point. 😉
I’ve lived in Saskatchewan for 16 years. And every single year, when Fall showed up, I’ve focused heavily on one thing. I’ve made it my goal: To find red leaves. They’re not easy to find in this “land of living skies”. So, every year, when I find a rare vine or bush that has produced some shade of red, I’ve honed in on it – marking my task complete for that year. Some years, I haven’t found any red. Other years, God provided a bounty of red findings. And it brought joy to this foreigner far from home.
But, this year was different. This year, God shed light on some areas of my life that have needed attention, repairs, and repentance for far too long. One of those areas, He revealed a few weeks ago as I found myself driving along the highway, subconsciously searching for the red in every grove of trees I happened upon. The voice was gentle. It didn’t scold. It reminded me of truth long forgotten.
For the past 16 years, I have been so focused on finding that one thing I miss so desperately much from my homeland near the water – the home of Maple trees turned red each Autumn – their deep maroon, burgundy, and oh-so-very-dark-wine-colored leaves. That’s when it hit me. The past 16 years of my life have been so focused on finding what I thought was missing to make a perfect Autumn, that I was actually missing the beauty of what I had surrounding me instead.
Over those 16 years of searching for what was missing, I missed the beauty in what was present.
This may sound so simplistic and elementary to you, but to me it was profound and taught me a much larger lesson that had nothing to do with leaves. What else have I missed??? What else have I missed out on because my attention was so focused on what was missing rather than on what was right in front of me? As humans, we tend to do that, don’t we? We hone in on “the missing”; the “not present”, the “not how I think it should be”, the “what God never gave me”, the “deserved reward or credit I never received”, that we miss the blessings that surround us daily!
And here’s the amazing part: When I finally listened to God’s nudging and conviction and the smack up-side my head on that drive, it was then that I finally focused on what was here, right now. The beautiful, present reality. Not on what was missing. But on what was here. I chose at that moment to stop focusing on what was absent and to genuinely THANK God for the oranges, the yellows, the greens within my sight at that very moment. And THAT’S when I finally began to see the beauty and the blessing in the now. That’s when I was floored by the amazing beauty in God’s creation. And that’s when I stopped longing for and missing what wasn’t there.
God is so faithful, isn’t He? He interrupts our longings, however small and insignificant they may be, because to Him, they’re significant.
What do you feel is “missing” from your life right now? What isn’t there that you think should be there? Maybe that thing, whatever it is, no matter how large or how small, isn’t there because God has a different blessing awaiting you. And all you need to do is look around. I don’t say that to sound trite. I know we each have longings, deep longings of our hearts that others just don’t understand. But remember this: God understands. And He cares deeply about those longings that ache inside of you. He sees that pain that nobody else sees. And He longs to draw near to you IN that pain. He wants to be a friend to you – the very best kind of friend. And that’s why, just sometimes, He chooses not to give us our deepest longings and desires. Because He truly does know what’s best for me…and for you.
Look for Him in the present, dear friend. Look for Him in the right now. He’s there – and it’s beautiful. Don’t allow yourself to miss the beauty of now because you’re still searching for the “red”.
For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. – Philippians 4:11