By Brad Hutchcraft
We have a tree in our yard that is one of my favorite things. Sure, a tree might be no big deal to some, but it means a lot to me. I have always loved the changing of seasons, especially seeing the leaves change color each autumn. I think it started with the story my mom and dad would tell me growing up. They would tell us that the angels came out to paint the leaves at night when the weather got cooler. That was always such a cool picture to me. It didn't help me ace my science exams, but still a memorable story from my childhood.
I love seeing the changing colors of the leaves, but I haven't always been able to do that.
In 1996, I moved to where God called me - a Native American reservation in Arizona. God said "Go," and I went. I lived there until September 2010. These were absolutely amazing years with some of the most incredible people you'd ever meet. But, if you know much about the desert, you know tall trees with leaves are pretty tough to come by.
For almost 15 years, autumn came and went without seeing much color. Sure, there were times I'd be driving out of state and see some of the leaves, but I didn't get to see the unfolding handiwork of the "angels painting."
When God said "Go" again in 2010, my wife and I started looking for a house in a new place. Having lived in other people’s spaces for many years, we definitely had a list of things we were looking for. We had ideas about a yard (mowing lawns wasn't a big business in the desert), a basement (moving to tornado country), and other things. However, nowhere on the list was a tree. Of course, we wanted trees, but we didn't have specifics in mind.
A few weeks after we moved, the angels started painting. The area around us lit up with color, and it was amazing. But no tree was as amazing as my tree...and that is true to this day. See, even though we didn't know it, God led us to a house that has a tree right next to it that turns an amazing red every fall. Without fail, it's one of the first to get "painted," and one of the last to lose all its color.
As I drove out of my driveway one day, I put the car in park and just looked. It was stunning! The sun was hitting the leaves, the bright red of the leaves. Stunning. And I was overwhelmed with God's faithfulness. I have seen His handiwork time and time again - in hospital rooms, in financial provision when funds were so tight, in bringing my wife and me together. But I see it in what many would call the "small things," too.
And I see it in my painted tree. God knew how much that tree would mean to me. We looked at some good houses when we were searching, but it was clear this was the one for our family. God is so good. He picked that house for us, and He grew that tree, and He sends His angels to paint those leaves year-after-year, bringing a smile to my face.
He's faithful to me, He's faithful to our family, and God - who created you, too - will be faithful to you. The Bible says it best: "For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 100:5). It might not always look like what you think it should look like, but God's got a painted tree waiting for you, too.
Originally published November 8, 2016