Joanna Echols: The Leaf’s Whisper (The 45th Parallel)

Written by on April 16, 2014

Leaf's Whisper
Today’s blog post is one of two first-place winners of The 45th Parallel Contest. Talented photographer and writer Joanna Echols is senior associate editor of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine.


           What I’m about to tell you is true. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only one seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24, NIRV)

On a fall hike, I notice a golden aspen leaf caught in the branches of an evergreen. How beautifully unique this leaf is—out of its comfort zone, nestled among needles so different from itself, situated where sunlight shines through. How did it get here? Surrender.

Perhaps when we’re forced to leave the comfortable and familiar, that is when God’s glory can most clearly shine through us. Perhaps even falling—and landing at a low point—can be beautiful!

But surrender is never easy. I want to control my future, but I can’t. I have an idea of what the next year holds, but anything could happen. How can I possibly relax in the face of these unknowns? Surrender.

Surrender and trust. When a tree lets go of its leaves, it performs an unconscious act of trust. Trust that although the weather has turned blustery and—as a leafless tree—it will look dead for a while, that is not the end of the story.

In fact, a tree loses its fall leaves because next year’s buds are forming, and the tree must prepare for springtime. So last year’s leaves heroically give way to new life. And those baby buds won’t open until they endure a harsh winter.

That must be why God whispers to me through one shining aspen leaf, Surrender is beautiful. He ushers me into a season of letting go, of falling and dying to my hopes, of struggling to trust that this is not the end.

(And it’s not. With spring will come new growth, new hopes and new relationships.)

If you’re being asked to let go of something or leave your comfort zone, know this: You’re entering a new season. It’s not the end of the story. That hope makes it possible to face the unknowns and surrender, to trust that God has a plan and to know that spring will come again!

Joanna Echols
Joanna Echols, senior associate editor of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine, grew interested in publishing at age 8. When a magazine printed her story about rescuing a baby squirrel, Joanna felt the first thrill of seeing her work in print. She has served in various editing roles, including seven years with children’s magazines.
JJoanna Echols
Find Joanna Echols at:
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  1. Susan   On   April 17, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Joanna; Thanks for your reminder to surrender to the One True God.
    How I want to increase my trust in Him so that dying to myself is not such a struggle.

  2. Joanna E   On   April 17, 2014 at 8:45 am

    You’re welcome, Susan. And I’m right there with you. For this strong-willed woman, surrender is a daily struggle. Why do I tend to subconsciously think I can figure things out better than God can?

  3. Jane West   On   April 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Great message! Surrender. It’s so hard to do sometimes. But as Ms. Echols so aptly put it, we need to, for the new growth to come.

    Thanks, again, Lynn, for another inspiring blog post.


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