The Other Side of the Promise

Three dried maple leaves, nestled beside various devotional books, lie on a table in my bedroom, reminding me of a promise. It was a promise given to me, several years ago now, after a long summer of loss.

That summer I faced one of those painful seasons when a loved one fell to temptation at great personal cost. As I watched shame overtake one who once held a youthful passion for God, I grieved as though the loss were my own. Tears flowed at the most awkward moments.

I observed signs of repentance and bumpy steps of progress as summer matured to fall. But my loved one still struggled with recovery.

As I look back now to that painful season, it seems like such a short moment; a small fragment of grey thread, woven tightly within the vivid tapestry of God’s faithful work. At the time, however, we couldn’t see the rest of the story. We couldn’t see beyond the pain, or know what would lie beyond the brokenness.

Today I’m remembering when I received that promise (several years ago) in the wake of that overwhelming sorrow . . .  

While in the dark haze of disappointment, I was once again lifting the tragic situation to the Father during my daily walk. He tenderly directed my gaze to the carpet of brilliant gold beneath my feet. I picked up one of the small maple leaves, speckled with tawny flecks.

I carried the gold leaf as tears flowed.

My feet shuffled, pressing my weary heart into the walk with mournful prayers, and a brilliant red caught my eye. I added it to the collection as I continued crying out for God to work in the life of this freshly returned prodigal. My mind was filled with “what ifs” and “whys” fueled by fears for the future and sorrows over wasted opportunities.

I bent to retrieve a third leaf and it brought a complete trinity of color. My sorrow-filled reverie was interrupted by the amazing realization of what lay in my hand.

Three leaves, once young and green, only buds just months ago, but now they bore a glorious transformation. The tender revelation brought me to a standstill.

“If God so clothes the grass of the field . . . He who began a good work will bring it to completion . . . Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory . . .” (Matthew 6:30; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 3:20-21).

It suddenly occurred to me . . .

If God cares enough to clothe the leaves of fall with such splendor, if He is able to bring such a beautiful transformation to display His glory in them . . .

Can He not do the same for my loved one?  

For His glory?

I’m now far beyond the day that God gave me His promise on that walk, and I’ve seen Him take the broken life of my loved one and honor his repentance. I’ve seen God restore lost years and do a beautiful new work. God has shown His faithfulness in bringing the transformation I so desperately hoped for as I picked up each vivid leaf.

I kept those leaves on the coffee table, so that daily I’d see the reminder of the promise. On days when I began to lose heart—I’d pick up one of the “promise leaves” and reflect on God’s power, His ability to transform, His care for His own—and my hope was renewed.

Now that we’re far beyond that painful season, every year, the autumn leaves remind me of that precious promise and God’s restorative power. Perhaps you’re in the midst of God’s weaving of a grey thread through the tapestry of your life. I hope you will look outside the window today and see evidence in the fall leaves of a God who delights in bringing brilliant transformation.

How can I pray for you today?

Would you like to share a testimony of God’s transforming work in a loved one? It would be an encouragement!


  • Vicki

    Dear Kimberly,

    I met you at Revive ’13 – at the “meet and greet.” While I absolutely love Nancy and her teaching, my heart was so immediately drawn to you. I was the one who jumped up and almost grabbed you and said, “I know you!” You prayed with me, especially for our church here in northern Wisconsin. I love your transparency and your passion for God!

    The past few years have been difficult ones for our family. I have often used the word, “bizarre,” as we have watched the enemy attack in ways we never dreamed of in both our family and our church family. I have been driven to my knees time and again, crying out as my world seems to spin out of control. We, too, have a loved one who has made some grievous and life-changing choices. While there are no outward signs of repentance yet, I am holding fast to God’s promises to complete His work and fighting to keep my eyes on the big, eternal picture. It helps so much when I hear of others who have walked this road before me.

    Please pray for this sweet prodigal of ours, and continue to pray for our church as we seek a senior pastor. Thank you. I love you in The Lord, dear sister!

  • Paulette Moore

    There are no leaves of color here in Florida, however I thank you for the reminder that our “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can think or ask” with two sons who have walked away from the Lord I need to remember that salvation is of the Lord and trust HIM to do HIS perfect work.

    I am still basking in the glory of the Lord that was manifested at our church this weekend. Thanks for coming.


  • Kimberly Wagner

    Oh, my precious sister, so good to hear from you! Yes, the Father was so faithful to meet with us and knit our hearts closer to His. So thankful for the sweet fellowship of women I found there.

    I am pausing now to pray for you and for your two sons. May our Heavenly Father relentlessly pursue them until their hearts are captured by His grace.

    Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20–21)

    Love and prayers dear friend ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Vicki ~

    I remember you and the Spirit has faithfully brought your church situation to mind to pray for you. Thank you for posting a comment here and for your precious and kind words.

    I am so sorry to hear about the challenges you’ve faced recently. There may be no deeper pain than that which accompanies watching a prodigal. I am joining you in prayer today. May the God who alone holds the power of resurrection and transformation in His hand, bring the redemption your loved one so desperately needs.

    May the Father fill you with faith and hope as you wait, dear friend ~