I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone ( just one grain, never more.) But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest. John 12:24 AMP
“Essentially, we are waiting for someone to die.”
It’s a phrase I’ve shared two times this week. For real. It is the honest to goodness truth of the reality I am currently living, I am waiting for someone to die, two someones actually. Each time I’ve shared this with my friends I’ve received the same look. Faces that hold a posture of “Huh – really?” and then when it settles in their soul – they turn to an attitude of hesitant resignation. One that agrees it is true but gosh it would be great if it wasn’t.
A tendon and an apartment.
Two pieces to the completion of two puzzles that will be made available after death.
My daughter needs a tendon from a cadaver to fix an injured knee and my parents need an empty apartment in the senior living center close to my home. Each of them, my daughter and my parents, have their name on lists. Lists they only move up when someone else..
It’s just the strangest thing.
Life coming from death.
Healing coming from pain.
Starts coming from finishes.
Yet, so it is.
It was not supposed to be this way. Humanity experiencing pain, suffering, death. It’s why it is always so hard, to say goodby. God never wanted it. He hates it.
But he uses it.
Brining good from the hard.
I’ve found that if I look close enough – I can see the lessons. The ones God uses to remind me that he is real. That he cares. That he has a perfect plan for all that believe in him – “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
If I look close enough – I can see the beauty that comes from ashes.
It’s about this time every late summer that I give up on my flowers, the ones I was so excited to plant and nurture in the spring. Their care now feels like more work then I want to exert as I eagerly await cooler weather and the beauty of fall. The beauty that comes from the changing of leaves from green to red, orange and yellow. The beauty that comes from one thing ending and another beginning.
I see the cycle of the importance of endings and beginnings all around me.
The graduation of beloved Senior Classes of our high school each spring. The students that we’ve seen grow and mature over four years, the ones that always leave. They make room for a new class of nervous, giggly, immature freshman. One ending bringing another’s beginning.
The sun that sets each night in glorious beauty leaving darkness and a much needed pause for rest and refreshment before a new day comes again.
The flowers that die and scatter their seeds which provide hope for multiple of their kind in the next growing season.
The professional that retires from the workforce providing space for the new college gradate.
The tradesman that leaves his craft after mentoring his apprentice who can now provide for his family.
The person that loses their job and moves to follow work in a new town and leaves a home for someone who has lost their job and moves to that town to follow work.
The athlete that suffers a season ending injury opening up a spot for the overlooked player on the bench. The player that when given the chance reveals her excellence and earns the starting spot on the team.
The eggs that I crack for breakfast each morning providing protein to fuel me for the day and the spinach I chop – the leaves that started as a single seed, grew to an abundant bush of leaves and when mixed with my eggs add extra nutrition to my morning.
Starts and finishes – I see the pattern all around me.
And so do you.
This simple reality that shows up in our work place, our leisure activities, our breakfast food.
The ones that can ultimately
Point us to truth.
The truth that despite the pain we may feel when one thing ends and another begins, we have hope.
We have hope even when we face the ultimate ending, when our days or the ones of our loved ones come to a close. When the cycle is complete, the race is finished. We have hope that this one big end is entrance to the most grand and eternal beginning. Our hope for a life, when as C.S. Lewis quoting Samwise in the Lord of the Rings , says “Everything sad will become untrue.”
No sorrow, no pain, no tears. We will see purpose in the hard of our earthly life. I like to think that I’ll have understanding of the blessings that came from the little deaths of disappointment and discouragement I felt in my life on earth. Like when the seed Luke talks about in chapter 24 dies – the one single seed, that upon death creates an abundant harvest.
Our beautiful beginning that we only have because of the one traumatic ending of our Savior Jesus.
His death after living a perfect life. His ending opens up our beginning.
His lonely, heart wrenching persecution when he took all our sin and pain right to the cross and resolutely completed the hardest race anyone will ever run. His death whose effects multiply daily as we share his love and his truth and his sacrifice with those that don’t understand his story and its role in ours.
Our story – the one with starts and finishes, endings and beginnings, celebration of new life and mourning death. The story that has purpose when we remember that God will use each hard for our good and others and for his ultimate glory. When we recognize the lessons and embrace the reminders.
As I wait someone else’s finish to open up my loved ones beginnings, I hold tight.
I hold tight to the God who ordains it all, all our beginnings and all our ends. I hold tight because this cycle is hard. The waiting, the starting, the ending. I hold tight while I clean out my flower bed, I pull out my sweaters as the air grows cold and when I chop my spinach each morning for breakfast.
How good that He is with us in it all.