I love this time of year. In a good year, I start planting seeds for my garden indoors. Peppers and tomatoes this year, and they are already four to five inches tall. But every time, it seems precarious. Tiny dried up seeds, some too small to handle with your fingers, buried in dirt and out of sight, and you can’t be sure whether they will come up. You keep coming back to look, check the water - is the temperature warm enough? Is there enough light? - and hope – and its days before you know whether they will grow. And when those first green shoots come out of the ground it feels glorious. Life was in there despite all appearances, and you have no idea how much is going to come from that shriveled up seed. But at the same time not all of them grow. Where you had these expectations for life and fullness, some of those patches of dirt remain bare.
You can say your entire life is like that. You and I have seen wonderful and terrible things happen to people. Some grow to be amazing and loving, and larger than life in the way they seem to invest in others, to build up community, to overcome storms and tragedy and keep on loving. And we’ve experienced times when we just get stuck on ourselves or stuck in the dirt, where you keep watching and waiting and hoping that new life will show up. And sometimes it never does.
Jesus says your whole life here on this earth is like a seed, His life, my life, and yours:
“Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25 NIV
Crazy paradox, almost frightening. For you to grow, to become what you were created for, you have to be willing, you have to undertake to die to yourself and get planted. Never to take your own life, but to give it up to Him for the sake of your own soul and countless others who may come to eternal life through your example. Only then does new life spring forth. The miraculous thing is that then new life springs to eternity and for new generations beyond number.
That’s what Jesus came to show us. That is what Jesus is inviting you into, if you would but follow Him.
What do you have to give up, in order to grow? Where – with whom - do you need to be planted?