I’m not really a morning person. It takes a while for me to wake up. Sometimes I’ll just sit and stare in to space for a while. I’ll grab a cup of coffee in hopes that it will jolt me awake. A couple months ago I was preparing for my day like normal. I looked out my kitchen window with my usual blank stare while the coffee brewed. I started watching the pigeons hunt for food. I stared at the branches that had fallen since I last cleaned up the yard. And all these thoughts started to come despite my slumber.
As I was watching the birds find food on that cold, windy, rainy morning I began to think about how inefficient the tree was in so freely giving away the fruit it worked so hard to produce. It seemed like such a waste for a tree to grow for years and years only to give it all away. And then it dawned on me. That’s the purpose – God designed the tree to freely give away its own life.
This particular tree sheds thousands and thousands of seeds each year. Trust me. I have to clean them up. Success in this case is not thousands and thousands seeds turning in to saplings. A successful tree is one that offers life on a much larger scale. The fruit of the tree sustains the life that takes residence in its branches. The shade shelters smaller plants from the intensity of the hot summer sun. Even the dead branches that fall give life back to the soil underneath. If the tree fails to produce a single sapling it will have made possible an incredible amount of life.
Someday this tree will no longer stand. However, the community would not be the same without it. The tree does not live or die in futility.
Jesus says it this way in John 12:24-26, “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. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
Even in death there is life. Jesus has this counterintuitive thing going on – he is the Author of life and he asks us to die daily. The purpose of dying daily is not to live forever – even though eternity with Christ for those who trust in him will be a result. The purpose of dying daily is to make room for Christ to live daily in us. If Christ is living in us we might make an impact on those around us. We might be able to defend the fatherless. We might be able to befriend the lonely. We might be able to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. All of this is so we will know Christ and make him known. You see, there is no futility in a life given by Christ.
This is an submission for the Pastor’s Corner in this Saturday’s Sheridan Press.