Thursday, May 5, 2011

Live to die.

A life lesson from a dandelion.

"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, 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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:23-25)

We frequently consider the lilies of the field, but the persistence of a dandelion may drive us mad. The law of scarcity tempts us to believe that the commonplace is not beautiful, valuable, or even worth contemplating. But the dandelion is an echo of the sun, its life offering wishes and wine. These unassuming plants are not boastful of the territory they take. They announce their presence with only a single blossom, a shock of yellow on a bald stem. And they thrive free of bias, surviving and multiplying despite our neglect or attention. 

The purpose of the dandelion is to live that it may die. From its birth it is usually hated: the ever watchful gardener rips out its roots and the random passerby rolls his eyes in disdain at an unkempt yard. What resources it does offer are stolen from insects, and it is rarely unique--unless it has been left to grow to an unusually large size, which provokes further delight in ending its life. Although its root may take hold and last for a good portion of time, the life of the dandelion flower (left unattended) is short lived. From hidden bud to aged snowball of seeds, the dandelion is continually dying that new birth can crop up.

In Scripture Christ tells us that we must lose our life to find it (Matthew 16:24-25). But how can freedom come from surrender? Saint Augustine writes that true rest comes from dwelling within God--killing off our hopes, ambitions, dreams, and fears to make room for His plans. Further, we exist to be instruments of His use, not self-motivated machines of accumulation, ambition, and individuality. Yes, to Him we are unique (He knows the exact number of hairs on our heads!), but our life is not meant to be written as a legacy. The Book has already been written for the glorification of one Man. Still, our lives have such great value that they are to be in service to a King, making each life invaluable and essential.

By living to die, we relinquish our power for self-promotion. We no longer exist for ourselves because it is no longer us but Christ living within us. In dying we bear much fruit that is caught by something or someone else to be replanted elsewhere--to give birth and life in places we will never go. 

Consider your motives. Consider how you spend your time. Whom do they honor?

"He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)

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