“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
For many years New England has been a popular destination for fall travel due to the beautiful fall foliage. Having lived up that way for 8 years in the nineties we can testify that there is a special beauty of autumn in New England.
But yesterday I heard an interesting perspective on fall foliage from Walter, a project manager at White Oak Display. He shared about a recent visit to Vermont where he has a friend who operates a Bed and Breakfast.
This is a very busy season in New England with tourists coming in from all over the world. His friend shared how he had a guest who inquired after settling in, “Now, where’s the fall foliage?” The innkeeper pointed outside and said “Out there”. But the guest replied, “But where’s the fall foliage?” The innkeeper specifically pointed to the colorful trees and said, “That’s the fall foliage!”
The guest rather frustratingly responded, “Well I can see that where I live”. He had probably heard people say you need to go to New England to see the fall foliage and so he made the trip. However, apparently he had come not even knowing what “fall foliage” is! Walter thinks he may have thought fall foliage was some kind of event or festival rather than the peak fall colors of the leaves.
Indeed you can see fall foliage all throughout the world wherever there are deciduous trees. Some species are especially colorful such as maples which are abundant in New England. But there’s pretty fall foliage in many places such as the Poconos here in Pennsylvania. The leaves on the oaks in our front lawn turn a beautiful red. Out west people talk about seeing the aspens.
The guest did not see the fall foliage because he apparently didn’t know what fall foliage was. Here’s a definition, “a phenomenon that affects the normal green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season, various shades of red, yellow, purple, black, blue, orange, magenta, and brown.”
Today’s text has a phrase that we will consider, “have been clearly seen”. This was speaking of God’s invisible qualities that are indeed seen through His creation, “being understood from what has been made”. Today, although they can be “clearly seen”, they are still missed by so many; those who really don’t care to know but would rather live with excuses.
The Christian Classics commentary observes, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” “But humanity today prefers Hollywood’s “sound-pictures” to seeing the “things” of the glorious God in the heavens,—beholding His works, and hearing their speech. How long has it been since you have gone out and gazed at moon and stars, made by the blessed God, traveling in such quiet glory, beauty, power, and order? Men know, if they care to know, that an infinite Majesty made and controls this.”
They are continually on display to be seen and perceived, continuously beheld fully, distinctly apprehended. It is not as if God gives rebellious, truth rejecting mankind just one brief peak at His glorious handiwork! They are continuously on display all around us regardless of where we live.
There is a similarity here to our opening “fall foliage” illustration but like most illustrations it’s only approximate. In the case of the Bed and Breakfast guest he didn’t see because he really must not have understood what fall foliage meant. But he was seeking it.
George Washington Carver, one of my favorite scientists, wrote, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in.”
Today many have no interest in seeking God. 2 Corinthians might be considered an explanation but it is not an excuse, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”.
But in the case of so many who fail to clearly see through Creation the eternal power and divine nature of God, they are ultimately without excuse.
When you see fall foliage do you know what you are looking for? Can you clearly see the handwork of God?
Our friends Cerwin and Doris High visited Branson, Missouri and I saw this nice photo on her blog revealing the beauty of the Autumn season in another part of the country dear to us. Branson is where we had our honeymoon and is near Springfield MO where we both went to college.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources