15 06 2011

Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.  I think every individual who has ever wanted to learn and grow in any area- whether it be athletics or music or art or education- has had to understand that a certain kind of death needs to occur to one’s own will in order to excel to a level of excellence.  The seed won’t sprout if it is not buried into the ground.  But to dive into the earth and to be covered completely with soil with the hope that it is all for the good of one day producing a fruitful harvest takes faith and commitment.  And while some things die hard- if you truly desire new life- they still need to die!

Nobody really likes to hear about this.  We want the short cut to instant success and to be on the fast track to a painless production.  We want the championship trophy without having to sweat it out on the playing field.  We don’t want to hear things like “if I want to live, I have to learn to die.”  There is a huge part of each and every one of us that is just too proud and too self-centered and greedy and self-preoccupied and self-absorbed to just deny ourselves without a fight.  We want to win without having to lose a thing- but without applying the lessons extracted from the pain- there genuinely will be no real gain.

Great pianists don’t grow on trees.  You don’t hit a curveball just because you show up with a bat in your hand.  Marathon runners didn’t start jogging the day of their big race.  Paintings that hang in the museums were not created in the rush of a single art class.  You don’t ski black diamonds your first time out on the slopes.  And you will never be wise unless you choose to make the most from your foolishness!  If you want to be great, you need to be willing to fail a few hundred times on your way to the winner’s circle.  You need to be open to laying aside your own comfort so that you can become competent at what you have set your heart towards.  Your time is no longer your own- but it becomes the property of the coach, teacher or mentor that you are willing to submit to because you trust that they have your best interest at heart even if it doesn’t feel right in your body!  You no longer eat what you want when you want it just because you are hungry.  You begin to sacrifice your appetite and move to consume what is right so that your body may be ready to become what it has to be in order to do what you long for it to accomplish.  If we really want to get it right, we need to get radical about not just knowing what we need to do- but doing it!

But here is the good news:  “We are saying NO for the sake of a much greater YES!”  We may die in some hurtful ways, but we do so in order that we may come alive in much more hopeful wide open spaces!  It is never for nothing that you give away what you love best with the goal of receiving something so much better!  You can’t get something wild and wonderful by investing nothing.  If you want a harvest in autumn, you must be willing to sweat a lot in the spring! 

This is where I think we can learn lots from Jesus.  We fix our eyes upon the Lord who did die.  He went to the cross- but we are told that for him- he was willing to endure the shame because he was convinced of a greater joy.  Jesus went to his death and they placed his body in the ground and they said, “What a waste!  He was so young.  He had such promise and potential.  He could have done so much more good.”  But do you know where they buried Jesus?  It is not accidental that we are informed about this in the gospel of John.  At the place where Jesus was buried, there was a garden!  And in the garden, there was a never used tomb that they placed the body of Jesus in.  That was the biggest mistake the Romans ever made.  They buried God in a garden!  They did not know what the most brilliant man who ever lived understood.  If you want something to stay dead, don’t bury it in a garden!  You can’t keep a good God down!  God knows lots about gardens.  When he created man in the first place, He placed man in paradise and paradise was a garden!  When a seed of hope is planted and sacrificed, in the dark- in the grave- in the tomb- in the ground- something wonderful happens!  Something stirs- and a root takes place and the seed is nurtured and with proper care- a surprise pops up for all of us to see and enjoy! 

And on the third day, the stone was rolled away and the grave was empty and the angel came down and the women were astonished and the doubtful disciples became devoted world changers!  And up from the grave Jesus arose- and what was first thought of as a tragedy turned out to be God’s greatest triumph!  And when you lose- you win and when you are last- you are first and when you are poor- you are rich and when you are down- you are ready to be lifted up and when you die- you are ready to become a prime candidate for new life!  It may not be easy- but it is eternal.  It may not come without pain- but it can be birthed into passion.  It may not be the fastest track- but it is the most scenic journey!  What’s it going to be?  Are you going to hold on to your seed selfishly or are you going to dive in devotedly and go for something higher than what earth suggests and allow yourself to be conformed into all that heaven will allow.  Gardens take lots of work- but gardens are a whole lot prettier and much more life giving than cement parks!  What do you want to be?    




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