By Greg Litmer
Last week I had the opportunity to visit with an older brother in Christ. For him things are not the same as they used to be. Various parts of his body are not working properly any more and his mind is starting to fail him too. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the visit very much. As I left and was driving back to the church building, I noticed the slowly changing color of the leaves on the trees. Autumn, in my opinion the most beautiful time of the year, is upon us. How interesting that the most majestic beauty of the leaves is not seen until the autumn, until the time when they are about to fall to the ground and be swept away. The last days of their lives are the most beautiful to behold. There is no sadness at this time, however, because we know that when the spring comes, the leaves will live again and the trees will be full.
How similar are the latter days of the faithful Christian. When the earlier days of toil and labor are but a memory and the promised rest does not appear to be too far in the future – is there ever a time when the Christian is more beautiful than in the autumn years, especially in those days when the leaf is about to fall to the ground? What a joy to speak to a brother or sister who has just about completed the race, who has almost finished fighting the battle, and who knows that henceforth there is laid up for them a crown that the righteous judge will give them at that day. Can anything make us feel better than the smile on the face of such a brother or sister in Christ? Can anything make us more confident of what lies beyond than the blessed assurance of one who has lived his or her life as a faithful servant of the Lord?
In 2 Corinthians 1:3,4, Paul wrote, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we our-selves are comforted of God.” “The God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation …”
I strongly suspect that those autumn years, and the days right before the leaf falls, are the time of life when the faithful Christian really comes to understand the meaning of “The God of all comfort.” Yes, parents and friends may be long gone; spouses may have passed away too; maybe the body has worn out and doesn’t function as it once did; maybe the mind wanders and conversations are hard to have – but in the lucid moments there is that comfort that comes only from a life of service to our God, the God of all comfort. I strongly suspect that is why so many autumnal Christians have a smile on their faces.
I am not going to mention any names here, but my older, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, when I grow old, and as Paul said, “the time of my departing is at hand …,” I pray to God I’ll be just like you.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 24, p. 1
December 16, 1993