This past weekend, I couldn't stay away from the mountains.
I grew up in a tiny town near Boone, NC - where the mountains are beautiful and the winter seems to last an eternity. But right before winter there is the most wonderful, incredible thing that happens: FALL. When October rolls around, there is something in me that comes alive. I think God wired me to absolutely lose my mind over candy corn, normal corn, pumpkins, firesides, warmer drinks (even when it's still 80 degrees outside) sweaters (also when it's still 80 degrees outside...I'll take the sweat NO SHAME), and most of all: the leaves. And I wasn't gonna miss them this year! We packed up the Corolla, piled in, and made the 2.5 hour haul home...and fall didn't disappoint.
When we drive the winding mountain roads, it's honestly ridiculous the way I act, I have to reel it in when I'm with people, but changing leaves are magical to me. I could stare all day in wonder. So I talk to God in my head a lot, "WOW GOD! Wow wow wow. This is your creation. This is good. This is a reflection of your glory." And out of nowhere, gently in my heart, God answers: you manifest my glory, you bear my image, you have my Spirit inside you.
How interesting, striking, wonderful, and honestly convicting is that? Of all the glorious and beautiful creation that God made and sustains, we are the pinnacle. We are his greatest creation and manifestation of his glory, designed to bear his image and carry his love. What an incredible honor that we brush away for dead end pursuits. We lock it away or keep it at arms' length, not even bothering to scratch the surface of his gift of life, full and blooming in him. I don't know how this makes you feel...maybe guilty for the way we misrepresent God, maybe shameful for the way you've treated his creation, maybe intimidated by the responsibility...that you'd rather just be a lovely colorful leaf for a week or two and then sleep all winter. But when I consider the great capacity and abundant opportunities we have to love and give grace, I can't help but see hope! We are well-equipped in the forgiveness of Jesus, guidance of his Word, and leading of his Spirit.
That picture up there was taken at the top of Table Rock. It was getting close to sunset, and the shadows were deepening in the ridges while smooth golden light saturated the fall colors and laid over the mountains like a blanket. From there, you can see the expanse of several counties, and even Lake James (top left corner). It was absolutely breathtaking. But beside me are some of my dearest friends; ones who have loved me deeply, accepted my insanity and abundance of flaws with open arms, and spoken truth and hope and encouragement over my life. Although imperfectly, we get to walk on this earth sharing our joys, pains, heartache, and belly laughter as image bearers of the one true God, reflecting his glory.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18