Death to Life

February 17, 2021

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, its bears much fruit. John 12:24 NASB

Two school projects I remember very well from my own childhood are such staples for understanding creation and how God works that many schools in each generation still assign them. I had leaf projects and seed collections when I was in school, our three children did, and now our oldest grandchild has had one in middle school. Collecting and making a scrapbook of leaves from a variety of trees taught us about the life-to-death-to-life cycle of trees, and the seed projects were similar.

One element of the experiment stood out to me and caused my imaginative self to ask questions. It was our project’s interruption of their life-to-death-to-life cycle. They seemed very animated to me, and I felt sad for them as ridiculous as it sounds. They were created for a different experience than we were giving them. While the leaves pasted into a scrapbook could last for a few years and be a proud relic, those particular leaves were forever dead. They would never cause new springtime life, never be part of growing a tree to shelter nests and baby birds, never be a part of offering shade to hikers, never be part of growing flower buds or apples or nuts. They were done. Dead. In becoming a trophy or a project, they lost their ability to live and produce. 

The same with the seeds. My seed collection was displayed with little cards that showed pictures of the full-grown plants they were intended to produce. I had kernels of corn in front of pictures of straight and strong corn stalks, apple seeds lying by a picture of a loaded apple tree, the tiniest marigold seeds connected to a picture of a field of flowers, a large acorn posing with a picture of a heroic oak. But the pictures seemed to me to be a mockery. These seeds would never become what they were created to be. They would never fulfill that purpose. Instead, I collected them and after the show they went into a Mason jar on my shelf. At some point in time I guess my mother threw out the dried and messy leaf scrapbook and emptied the jar. I never noticed. 

The seeds all missed their purpose because they were intended to die in order to live and grow. The death occurs in the darkness of the ground where their protective coats disappear in the process of the Creator, enabling life to emerge. That is God’s process with us. He doesn’t want us to be projects, trophies, scrapbooks that blunt our purpose and true life. His design is for us to willingly submit to His process that may feel like death to us so life can come from us. We will survive and flourish and bear much fruit. We will fulfill the purpose for which we were born. 

  • Pray: Jesus, help me cooperate with Your purposes for me. I want to bear much fruit. Amen.