I read this verse from Jesus this morning:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
I am fascinated by all the ways the pattern of death bringing new life is woven into the very fabric of nature. From plants, to seasons, to even how our skin works – we find this pattern in all of nature.
I recently finished the biography of Steve Jobs. As I am sure you have heard, the summary of the book is that he was a difficult person, incredible innovator. One of the things everyone pointed out about him though was his ability to “turn off the outside noise.” When it came to make innovative (or even just sharp-looking) products, he always knew exactly what to say “no” to.
He knew what needed to die so something new could live.
I am constantly reminded of this pattern during our new phase of life. We have had a great deal of change over the last few months. And that means we had to move on from things, say no to certain things, relationships have changed, life rhythms have changed. But these were necessary things for our new venture. And the further we go into it, the more we realize the new life that it is bringing.
The strange part is that the things we had to leave behind were actually GOOD things. We had to learn that you have to give certain things up to move forward. We cannot dive into new ways of living and thinking without leaving certain things behind. Even if they are sometimes good, healthy, and life-giving. It is how the world works.
But the change can be hard. One of my favorite Rob Bell sayings is that all change is difficult – even good change. Change is a kind of death. It must be grieved. But that grief leads to new life.
We do not have to accept changes as things we relish in and enjoy every minute of. They can be painful and frustrating. Think about what a seed goes through. The seed is plunged into a new, dark place. It is slowly cracked open and things begin to grow out of it that it has never seen before. Then it keeps spreading in search of freedom and light, unsure if the light will come. It has to be painful and scary.
Not to mention, think about how long it takes to get from seed to a plant poking through the ground. It is a slow process.
But as followers of Jesus, we know that these changes actually serve to bring life. Jesus says it not only brings the seed new life, but it brings a plentiful harvest. The waiting, the difficulty, the frustration are bringing new life to us. But our difficulty also brings new life to those around us. The benefit of the waiting and pain starts within us, but spreads out to bring new life to others as well.