In the fall of 1994 I found myself in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was traveling back to Wilmington, Delaware from my hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi and had stopped overnight to visit with family vacationing there to see the fall colors.
The next afternoon before I departed we were to meet up for a quick meal at one of our favorite spots, a park in the mountains outside of Gatlinburg called, “The Chimneys”. The road through the wooded picnic area there is a like a maze running between towering trees and on that fall day it was covered by a canopy of bright gold leaves.
I arrived before anyone else and was sitting in my car, taking in the scenery, reading a book when what had been a light breeze outside began to gain steam. As the wind blew harder the leaves that had been slowly falling became a steady stream of gold pouring from the sky.
It was like something computer generated out of a movie. A real show stopper.
In short order my family arrived and as I scanned the car for my bookmark a single solitary golden leaf, one of countless billions on the mountain that day, blew in through my barely (and I mean barely) cracked window. It landed perfectly against the binding of the open book that was sitting in my lap, like it was created for that moment and that purpose. Today my faith tells me it was.
The odds for a single leaf, out of billions, to be set apart and preserved are truly incalculable but at twenty-five years old that was beyond me, I just thought it was cool. So, I shut it in my book and went on about my day.
A decade or so later I was going through boxes of “stuff” from the baseball era of my life when to my surprise I came across the leaf again. It was still in the book, right where I had left it.
A keepsake for sure at this point, I put the leaf in a laminate sheet for safe keeping.
Years had passed since that fall day, but it was still beautiful in my eyes, still special, it had been directed, it had been set apart, now it was protected. Just a leaf, but significant to me.
The years rolled on and somewhere along the way the leaf happened to find its way inside the front cover of my Bible, although I have zero recollection of putting it there. I discovered it one night several months ago when, unable to sleep, I had found my way to the place I call “my table” in the living room of my home.
I had gone there to fight back against the fear that had begun trying to devour me the moment I realized I was awake, hours before daylight. I was there, like I had been so many nights before when life got heavy, meeting with God, looking for help, asking for guidance, praying for peace.
At some point and for some reason I opened the front cover of my Bible, something I apparently never do, and there was the forgotten golden leaf. I just sat and looked at it.
Twenty-four years had gone by since it landed in my book on that fall day, but there it was. Still beautiful, still special, still directed, still set apart, still protected. Significant…. just like I am too God.
In the fall of 1994, in a sea of billions of leaves, God sent that simple single leaf into this world with a purpose. To remind a man, calling out to Him in the middle of the night, over two decades later that regardless of what was going on around him, that he was God’s. That he was significant.
Sometimes the simple reminder that we are not in this alone is enough to keep us moving forward.
Regardless of where you are in life or what is going on around you today, know this…. You may be just a speck in this vast universe, but you are God’s most cherished creation, you have a purpose in this world in Christ, and you are unimaginably significant to Him.
Whether life is heavy, or you are having your best days ever…. Always abide in that.
Get in the boat. Do your part.
Shane / #16
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