“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).
A few days ago we entered into the season of spring. The death of winter gives way to the new life of spring in glorious ways (especially via daffodils!). Life…death…resurrection. This process of dying and rising, death and new life is at the heart of the Christian faith, and it is important to give it our attention. 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. Resurrection is not a belief but a way of living. In order to fully experience the abundant life Jesus offers there is much in us that needs to die; false attachments, greed, anger, impatience, and stinginess. C.S. Lewis succinctly wrote: “Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”
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. We too can cling to our old patterns, thoughts, perspectives, and attitudes 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. It seems the spiritual life is not about a thousand victories but a thousand surrenders, i.e. little deaths, of the things we would rather not give up. Eugene Peterson calls this a daily way of “practicing resurrection.” Practicing resurrection places us in a position to live robustly in the world. It’s one of the greatest testimonies to the world that God is real, and enters into our broken world.
Dying is never easy and it is 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 the pain. Culture tells us to escape from our brokenness. So, we try to protect ourselves; we hide, we numb, we deny. Ann Voscamp wrote, “So much dysfunction in our lives comes from trying to escape broken things.”
It’s important to understand, however, our brokenness is not a disqualifier to abundant life. Broken is not the end of anything; it’s the beginning. If we avoid our brokenness, we will never experience the resurrection.
All of this will take trust, that in the midst of our brokenness, there is a resurrection happening; Christ is bringing new life that you could never imagine or produce on your own. We learn from Jesus that new life can come from death, that we can find meaning in difficult times; that our losses no longer have 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.
Christ is alive in us! Every story is a resurrection story. Your story is a resurrection story. Today we celebrate God’s promise that new life can be breathed into the very places and spaces we have declared dead and over. We celebrate that death never has the final say. A good reminder that every day rises with the possibility of resurrection.
What are you clinging to that keeps you from receiving the new life Jesus offers?
What would keep you from releasing it to Jesus in exchange for the abundant life He offers?
What might your life look like when your brokenness no longer defines you?
Thank you for joining me on this 40-day Lenten journey! I hope the daily devotions were meaningful and were faithful companions on this journey. May they continue to shape your hearts and bless your life! Happy Easter! Gail