“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
“You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies… So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:36,42-44
Coquinas. Closed tight, digging, disappearing deep into the soft wet sand. But when the tiny clams are finished with their labors, they break open to sprinkle their many-hued shells as a delight for all who see. Their beautiful varied colors, wings spread open, symbolize the lovely variety and bounty of life and freedom that comes only from giving up labors and being broken open. These butterflies capture and sparkle our imaginations with what it means to die to self and be set free.
When we hold tight to ordering our lives just so, and finagling our way to the front, or top, we remain pent-up by stress, bound by self-effort. We might be able to show off our credentials, our importance, our successes, but we are never free.
But when the Lord Jesus in His grace humbles us, when we are split deep by our sin and set free by His Spirit, we have a new vitality that reflects His magnificent, exquisite beauty. Our lives are broken open for Him, freed of self, unfettered to lavish genuine love, spill over with gratitude and praise, and express joy and peace that confounds the world. Why would we not choose this Spirit-life? (Mark 14:3-6; John 8:36; Romans 8:10-11)
What keeps us stubbornly motoring on in our own strength? God’s strength is perfected in our weakness. Why do we clam up with trepidation at the thought of being vulnerable to others, or the Lord? Most fear is self-focused, ignoring God’s promises. Where do we feel the nudge of the Spirit, or hear the gentle beckon of our loving Lord, saying, ‘Come, my beloved, unto me. Die to self, release your burdens, open up, let go. Now live in me, trust me, and flourish.’ It is faith in our incomparable God that compels us to step out, open our wings, and say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.“ (Psalm 37:4-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Galatians 2:20)
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.” ~Saint Francis of Assisi