Sunday afternoon, about an hour before sunset, I woke up from my Sunday afternoon nap and decided to bag the leaves in my front yard.  You may be thinking, “Becca, it’s spring! Why are you bagging leaves?”  Well the fact is, my roommate and I have barely touched the front yard all fall or winter.  You can imagine how terrible it looked.

About a week and a half ago, three yard men mysteriously showed up, blew all the leaves to a big pile over by the fence, and left.  I don’t have any idea where they came from.

As I was bagging this gigantic pile of leaves – a kid’s dream to jump in – my mind had opportunity to wander.  First, I started thinking about what an illustration of grace this scenario is.  The job of cleaning up the yard was much too big for us.  We don’t even own a rake, much less a leaf-blower, and it was an entire season of leaves in our yard.  Somebody else, somebody who had no reason to be interested in the state of our yard, came and took care of the problem that was too big for us to handle.

Then, I started thinking about what my response was to this grace.  Having been given a gift, I could either let it rot sitting by the fence, or do something with it.

Same is true with the gifts God gives us.  The million-dollar theological word is stewardship.  Do I just say, “thanks for the gifts, God,” and do nothing with them, or do I go about doing what is appropriate with what God has given me?

And, do I realize that doing something is going to be costly?  My hamstrings in particular can attest to the fact that using the gifts is not always easy or painless.

OK, maybe I’m taking this analogy a little far.  I told you my mind wandered while bagging.

But there’s one more illustration to be drawn here.  There I was, bagging up a ton of dead leaves with spring blooming all around me.  It’s a picture of Lent, the season in the Christian calendar that we have just entered.  Lent is a time of mourning, of fasting, of preparing our hearts and minds for fully embracing Jesus’ death on the cross – His death in our place.

But even in the midst of Lent, in the midst of thinking about what it means to die with Christ, we look forward with joy to the fact that we can and will LIVE with Him also.  We look forward to the Resurrection, to Easter Sunday, to the fact that God conquers death, swallows it up in Life.  The creation bursting into color and song in the new life of spring gives annual testimony to God’s ways of doing things.

Dead leaves – whether it’s sin in my life, or gifts to be developed, or a relationship to be mended, or a slice of humble pie to be eaten – aren’t so hard to deal with when LIFE is blossoming all around me, even if dealing with them is painful.  Seeing the beauty of Life gives context to the smaller deaths.

Who knew that so much could lie in a big pile of leaves?