Fallen Leaves

All of us have become like something unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment;
all of us wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.

[. . .]  
Yet LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we all are the work of your hands.
LORD, do not be terribly angry
or remember our iniquity forever.
Please look—all of us are your people! (Isaiah 64:6, 8–9 CSB)

It is early November as I reflect on these words from Isaiah 64. Where I am in western Oregon, we are surrounded by the falling leaves and the inevitable clean up that follows. As I ponder the leaves and Isaiah’s words, I am reminded of the annual school project of finding and bringing a leaf into class to be studied and admired. We made impressions of those leaves and found great beauty in their design. Hold that thought with me and read the passage again.

Did you notice that Isaiah compares us to the leaves that whither and fall to the ground? And not only are we fallen leaves, but we are fallen leaves that are blown about by the wind as one who is blown about by their sins.

Part of the annual tradition of the falling leaves is the inevitable gathering of the leaves. In our town, we pile them up on the side of the streets for the city to pick them up and take them away. This is only possible because the leaves behave differently when they are gathered. Like us, in community the leaves once piled up find strength from their fellow leaves, strength enough to stand against the blowing winds.

Verses 8–9 draw our attention to the dynamic of community on us as the people of God. Instead of being blown about by the wind, when we are together we experience the shaping power of God’s Holy Spirit. This shaping by our good Father, who is referred to here as the potter, uses community to shape us, strengthen us, and prepare us for the next season of life.

Know that as you feel blown about by the winds of this life that your Heavenly Father desires you to be connected to community, for it is in community that we experience his best for us.

David Curtis is the lead pastor of Salt Creek Baptist Church in Dallas, Oregon.