It’s a beautiful Autumn day. Yesterday was rainy.
That tends to make me more melancholy than I am comfortable with…so today’s sunshine is a real blessing for me. As the rain continued through the day yesterday, I found myself giving way to all the emotional turmoil that goes along with it. I prayed through difficult areas. It was a painful day. And at the end of the day…after suffering emotionally and spiritually all day long…the Lord whispers to me… “I want you to die to yourself”……
Die to myself? More of that. Yes. More of that. For years that has been the call. For years. And early on I prayed for it. I foolishly asked for this pain… or…perhaps not so foolishly….
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. John 12:24 The New American Bible
Last night was my midweek service. I teach kids….teach them week after week. Deal with attitudes. Deal with lack of participation. Deal with kids not learning how to do the work and giving me excuses. I get bitter. I get tired. I don’t want to do it. Then three little kids showed up. Last night. Three little kids. Three little kids who don’t normally come. Three little hungry kids. Hungry for love. Hungry for food. Hungry for acceptance. Hungry for Jesus. Three little kids. It’s amazing what a difference three little kids can make. After I handed out all the ice they wanted and shared all the music time I could…I loved on those three kids. I helped them feel that love during lesson time. I gave them a maternal place to turn during snacks and play time. I tried to be Jesus to them. Three little kids. To all of them. Not just the three…but I must admit…the three gave me the needed lift to keep going for all of them.
I prayed for those kids to come and be a part of our Wednesday nights. I pray for the kids of the community to come. It is a rough neighborhood. Those kids come from backgrounds we don’t really want to know about. Those kids are hungry for so much. They don’t act right. They don’t dress right. They don’t look right. They don’t feel right. Their experience isn’t right. But they are right. In the eyes of God they are lovely. And God desires them for His Heavenly Kingdom….
“I want you to die to yourself” ….
What does dying look like? I mean…what would it look like in your life? In my life it is giving up desires. It is giving up dreams. It is laying down what could be pretty and comfortable for what is real and needed. It means that I won’t get to have the picture perfect life. Big surprise there. I didn’t have it anyway. It means that I will have to live with less. But if that grain of wheat drops to the ground it will produce much fruit. So what do I want? Do I want to just be a grain of wheat? Do I want to fall to the ground? Do I want to die to myself and produce much fruit?
The fruit is something the farmer has to wait on. When that wheat seed is put in the ground there is not an immediate crop ready to harvest. Perhaps that is why this has been a long process. I’ve been praying this prayer for sixteen years. I don’t yet know where I am in the process. I hope further along than I was.
Three little kids at the end of one tormented day. Three little kids. I was reminded of all the ones I haven’t met yet. All the ones who are hungry. All the kids who have those marks under their eyes…a revealing sign that they haven’t eaten well in a while. I was reminded of those pleading eyes…so many pleading eyes I haven’t seen yet. Eyes begging for love and acceptance. Eyes ready to see Jesus be real in someone. Can I be that someone?
Only if I fall to the ground and die to myself…..
Lord, I don’t have the strength to die to myself. You and I know that. I don’t have what it takes to produce fruit. Not on my own. It takes all the sanctifying power of the Savior …all the grace… all the mercy….all the abiding in the Vine I can get…. and even then…it won’t be me. It will be You. Help me to look out there and see the labor and think of the harvest. Help me not to give up. Help me to be Jesus to those kids. Help me to be Jesus to those adults. Help me to die to myself and bear much fruit…. I need you Father. I can’t do it unless you are right there in the midst of all of it.
Help me to do that tomorrow as well……..
and the next day………