Sunday, November 2, 2008

Shades of Beauty in Death

        Shades of orange, yellow and red fill the trees outside my window.   I love living in this mountain town.  Beautiful hues on display around me remind me of a paintbrush and palette in the hands of the Artist.  I can see Him smiling as He brushes the colors of fall onto the canvas of these mountains.  He delights in creating beauty.

      Trees preparing for rest, shut down their food making factories.  Leaves once a vibrant green now turn to shades of brilliant color.  As the green chlorophyll fades away, the hues that have always been there hidden, begin to burst out.  Exquisite beauty is seen as the leaves prepare to die.

     I never thought I would see beauty unfold in my life.  All I could see was the pain and death that surrounded me.  For the wages of sin is death. There had been plenty of sin throughout my life, leaving what felt like insurmountable wages.  How could it be that Christ came to set me free, yet I still felt the shackles of sin and death? No matter how much I performed to please Him I was still left with the questions.  Am I enough?

     Why is it that if I had been crucified with Christ, I still lived.  I remember a friend saying to me, “you are dead in Christ”.  My response was, “yes and I am going to be the best dead person I can be.”  She said, “Julie, there’s something wrong with that statement.”  I was so steeped in performance that I had no idea that still lived.  He knew I was stuck so He invited me to enter into His death.

     When Papa God invited me into the desert He knew that death awaited me.  I must die so that Christ could live.  As long as I lived my life in my own ability, stuck in the "old man" identity, Christ’s life wasn’t going to be lived through me.  

      We hear alot about independence in this day and age.  We're told it's up to us and what we must do.  We as people need;  sort of.  As long as we can handle it we do.  When we get to a place where we can’t figure it out, it’s then we cry out in need.  We live our lives as competent people who call on their God when life gets unmanageable.  It’s not what He desired. It’s not what Jesus displayed.  Why is it we tend to live independently when Christ lived dependently?  If I live my life on my own isn’t it an indication that somewhere His life is not being lived through me?  We have reduced relationship with God to requirements.  We must earn our keep, to prove our love.  Doesn't that somehow in the midst make life about me and what I can and will do?  If my life with God is based on requirements won't that somehow stifle the relationship?

     God made His Son to need Him.  He made the whole earth to need Him and many of us do, to an extent.  I say I want to live for Him, to know Him.   Do I realize that to know Him, means I die to me, my ability, my strength, my wisdom, and even my perspective of who I think I am.  I am crucified with Christ, yet I no longer live, but Christ now lives in me.  Does my life really reflect that?

      The leaves of fall depict this lesson of life. As they begin to die, the beauty that’s stored inside them emerges.  It was there all along, though unseen.  Nature paints a picture of life.  The colors of Christ in who He made me to be will break forth in stunning beauty as who I used to be dies.  I am a new creation in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come.

       Life no longer has to be about me and what I can do.  It can now be about Him and what He will do.  He came that I might have life, and have it to the full.  As I am emptied, the brilliant, full life of Christ unfolds in me.   It’s quite the paradox, really.  In losing my life I gain it. I become who He made me to be.

     Feeling His beauty spill out of me is unlike anything I have ever experienced.   Every time He lives out of me, I am undone.  He fills me up unlike anything I have ever known.  The beauty of Him in me, takes my breath away.  For it is in this place I have come to see, it's not up to me. I can need.  I can be incapable.  I no longer need to perform or strive.  He has come to set me free.  The paradox of God is; as I lose my life I gain His. I am free to be me, knowing it's not up to me.  It is His life lived in me. That my friends, is life to the full.  

        I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

      What about you?  How dead are you? Does His life lived out in you take your breath away?  

    For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. II Corinthians 4:11  



©copyright:  2008  Julie L. Todd



Denise said... Reply to comment

Such a beautiful post.

Joyful said... Reply to comment

Great post Julie! I'm most often very comfortable with 'dependence'. Although there are some situations that arise where I would like to see Him intervening quicker, I enjoy knowing that I'm not in control, and surrendering the reigns to someone else. Being more of an insecure person, I'm so thankful that God is leading and guiding and I can follow Him. I wrote a post once about being a "High Maintainance" Christian - fully relying on God every minute of every day. I'm so glad He neither slumbers or sleeps, because I need Him 24 hours a day!

Daily dying to self,

Shanda said... Reply to comment

Once again, I read your every word with a hope for my days in the desert. The hard part is the waiting... experiencing the death and not knowing how long the process will be. So I listen and wait and give myself over to death in order to learn with every step what it truly means to have His life lived out in mine. Thank you, Julie.

Holli said... Reply to comment

It is truly an incredible place to rest, in the arms of the one who created it all and is so intimately involved in my life it always leaves me humbled, awed, and grateful. The more I let go, the more I see Him, my desire is to remain there until I enter His dwelling place and can see fully all of His plans. Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully.

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

Yes, I am breathless. This week I have felt His power, His peace and His love in such tangible ways. I am undone. He is all I need. I live in Him. Abiding not striving.

I rest because I can trust Him.

John 10:10 is a verse I cling to. I love life to the full and it's only found in allowed Christ to live in me.

Beautiful. I see color. I see His heart!

Love you, friend,


We've got to talk this week...

Angie said... Reply to comment

Julie---I loved this post :) What I thought as I read---what are my colors showing? This was very thought I will be thinking on tomorrow!

Hope all is going well with you!

Laura said... Reply to comment

I will not look at the fall leaves the same way again, friend! What a beautiful illustration of an oft-needed reminder for me. I have to experience that dying to self thing over and over and over...seems I am so used to taking care of things that I tend to forget there is One who does a much better job. As I grow, these seasons lessen. I am loving the book you recommended: Anonymous. I feel Ms. Chole's words teaching, encouraging, speaking to a soft place in my heart.
Thank you, my sweet friend, for opening my eyes once again.
love to you,

Jensmere said... Reply to comment

An inspiring post Julie! I love your comparison of the autumn leaves to our spiritual growth! If we would only let HIM color our lives to the full we would be surprised at what masterpieces we could His image.

Be blessed, dear one,

Amy said... Reply to comment


I love the analogy of the fall leaves and the beauty that lies in each of us waiting to emerge. How beautiful!

And I love these words: "It is His life lived in me." Amen!

Thanks for blessing me today!

Love you,

Amy said... Reply to comment

Julie, this is a wonderful post. So often we live defeated because we are wrapped up so tightly in our performance rather than in our relationship with Christ. We can "choose life", and live in joy and peace. We can have a full life in Him. Blessings.

Amy said... Reply to comment

Julie, my husband posted a video of a song called "Then Shall I Live". It goes with what you are saying. If you want to check it out, the link is

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

My friend. How blessed I am that God led me to you and your blog. He speaks so softly and purely to me through your words, Julie. Truly, you are a jewel of the Father's. Sending you love and hugs.

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

Your posts always seem to be go right along with truths He is teaching me. Self effort. It gets me absolutely nowhere, other than frustrated and worn out.

This post is beautiful! I love Autumn and all of the gorgeous colors. And I love knowing that inside of me, there is His beauty waiting to be displayed...all I need to do is die to self.

Thanks for blessing us with the truths you are learning!

Tracy said... Reply to comment

What words of life and beauty spill from your heart! This spoke to me so deeply as I read, and I'm sure I'll be thinking on it for some time. You've given me yet another reason to love the season of's poignant reminder that I must die so that He may live more fully in me. Thank you, precious one.

Breathless and undone,

Kathy S. said... Reply to comment

At the point of our death, His life abounds...eternal and beautiful!

How poetic are the truths of our Lord and He expresses them through you beautifully!

God's Girl said... Reply to comment

Is your name Julie A. Todd?

My name is Julie A. and my husband's name is Todd. : )

How funny!

Angie said... Reply to comment

AFter your sweet comment on the pictures/colors I took yesterday outside our office here...I pictured the beauty of your surroundings...and I told Jeff---I wanna go back!!!!

Laura said... Reply to comment

Hi, friend! I'm sorry to hear about your laptop! OhNo! I understand what a major catastrophe that must have been. I hope you had your precious words backed up. I am terrible about doing that myself. Need to do better...
I read through this post again, as I love every word. We have that thing with the trees, do we not? Soon they will be naked again.
Sending love,

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said... Reply to comment

Julie, I'm not sure if I posted this on my last comment to you or not, but recently the Lord has shown me the picture of Judges 7: the clay pot, a pitcher, with the light inside. We are the clay vessels. His Spirit is the light if you will. The Spirit is inside when we receive Christ, but in order for it to burst out, the pitcher has to be broken.

The Lord clearly revealed to me that my pitcher isn't broken yet. Wow. Since that time a couple weeks ago, I have been praying about this and He is breaking me. It is death to me, but alive to Christ.

Thank you for this great, thought provoking post. What a blessing to see the Lord at work in your life and for you to share it with us. Keep on sharing, we are listening and learning together.