“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This saying of Jesus was so basic to his kingdom that it shows up in each of the four Gospels, and twice in Luke (Matthew 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:23-24, Luke 17:33).
This statement by Jesus is one of the great paradoxes of our faith and life in the kingdom…that in order to really live, we must die. This process of dying and rising, death and new life is at the heart of the Christian faith and it is important to pay attention to. For example: Baptism portrays this kind of paradox…where we “die” with Christ and identify in his heath in the submerging under water and we are “raised” to new life in our coming out of the water.
We also see it all around us: In a few days ago we will enter into the season of spring. The death of winter gives way to the new life of spring in glorious ways.
Life…death…resurrection. We see it in our own lives. Even in our spiritual journey when God begins to do a new thing in us, old things must pass away. In order to fully experience in the abundant life Jesus offers there is much in us that needs to die; false attachments, greed, anger, impatience and stinginess.
EVERYDAY…We experience all kinds of dyings and risings.
Life is full of hurts and loss: losses of health and youth; unfairness, disappointments, shattered dreams, and unreached potential. We grieve the pain and losses in our lives. This presents us with a choice. The same choice like that of Mary Magdala on Easter morning wanting desperately to cling to the Jesus she had known rather than accepting the resurrected one. We too can cling to the old and refuse to receive the new life Jesus offers.
The second choice is to release the old life. But, unless we are able to release our cherished idea of what could or should have been, we will never be able to receive the new life that Jesus offers in their place.
Dying is never easy….and it’s messy business. It feels like we are coming undone. We are afraid to see the brokenness that’s still such a part of our lives. It’s amazing what we will do to avoid or escape the pain; you can’t escape brokenness; when we try…we become the walking dead.
Culture tells us to escape from brokenness…we try to protect ourselves; hide, we numb, we deny. So much dysfunction in our lives comes from trying escape broken things.
Our brokenness is not a disqualifier to abundant life. Broken is not the end of anything; it’s the beginning. If we avoid the brokenness we will never experience the resurrection.
All of this will take trust; TRUST that in the midst of brokenness there is a resurrection happening; Christ is bringing new life that you could never imagine
Think about your own life.
What is a dying or rising that you have experienced today, this week, this year?
What new thing is God doing in your life that requires some old things to pass away?
Someone has said that the spiritual life is not a thousand victories but a thousand surrenders; i.e. little deaths.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.”
We learn from Jesus that new life can come from death, that we can find meaning in difficult times; that our loss no longer has the last word… that endings are but embryos of new life…and out of what seems to ruin our lives, our very rescue can begin.
© Gail Johnsen 2018