I love when the trees show off their vibrant colors during autumn. And even though I don’t like the season of winter, it is beautiful when snow and ice cover blanket the earth. In spring the plants are in full bloom coloring the world with pastel hues. And who doesn’t love the sight and sound of leaves rustling in the summer breeze?! Nature does such a great job pointing us to our Creator!
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:20
But have you ever stopped to think about how plants and trees come to be? They begin as nothing more than a tiny seed. With that in mind, read this quote by Cynthia Occelli,
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, the insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
I haven’t been able to shake the visual picture of a seed exploding out of its original for new life can come forth. A life altering change is required of the seed before it can grow into something beautiful. I don’t know who Occelli is or what she believes about the Lord, but Jesus says something similar in John 12:24,
Very truly I tell you, 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.
So often we want our lives to be fruitful, but we don’t want to pay the price that comes with growth. We want a change that doesn’t cost us anything, but Jesus minces no words when he tells us that to be His follower we must be prepared to lose our life for His sake (Matthew 16:24-25). Dying to ourselves doesn’t just apply to the large scale choices but rather is a moment-by-moment decision. To become beautiful creations who point to our Creator, we must constantly die to ourselves.
Sometimes, though, obedience feels like death.
Last week I emailed a five-page apology letter to someone I once intentionally hurt (remember my Frenemy? It was her!). Let me tell you that this was not something I wanted to do, and the act of doing so did kind of feel like death. But I realized, after sending it, what died was my bitterness and pride. Having walked a week on this side of it, I’m happy to report that those deaths were beneficial.
Sometimes obedience feels like death, but what dies is the sin.
At times it is painful, but my sinful shell needs to be cracked and broken, so I can grow into the person God wants me to be.
In marriage, every moment is an opportunity to remain a single seed or to die to ourselves and produce something beautiful. At times it will be our pride or selfishness, other times our dreams or lingering bitterness. We must surrender our right to be right and the opportunities to play the victim card. God daily prompts us to obey, but sometimes the thought of doing what we ought feels like death.
What if everything turns out horribly?
Can’t I just be in a bad mood?
Do I really need to work on my holiness?
Why am I always the one needing to change and sacrifice — what about my husband?!
Valid questions, but all are missing the point. At times, God will ask us to let go of sins or hurts to become wives which point to Him. In some situations, we will feel like a seed buried deep over our heads and suffocated by the dirt all around. We will find our plans splitting in half and experience the pressure of our insides coming out. While not fun, it is a necessary part of our growth. We must trust our tender Gardener who knows what is best for us. He will give us just what we need to cultivate life and produce the fruits of His Spirit.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. ~ John 15:1-2
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:11
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Sometimes obedience feels like death, but it will ultimately bring forth life.
What are you needing to die to today?