24 Truly I tell you, 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.
25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it,
while anyone who hates their life in this world
will keep it for eternal life.
- John 12:24-25
Life after death is a question that many people struggle with. It doesn’t matter whether you are a person of faith or an agnostic, the question of life after death can be troubling.
Even more troubling, is the question of life after death when you are still living and breathing. Christ made it pretty clear in John 12 that holding on to life the way we know it is eternally detrimental. Not only that, but He said it’s also completely unproductive, it doesn’t count for anything! Let’s face it, if we don’t produce “many seeds,” if we breathe and exist for 50, 75 or even 100 years and leave nothing to show for it, can we really say we’ve lived?
I have a small coaster that says “Just when the caterpillar thought her world was over, she became a Butterfly.” Every time I see it, I am reminded of that verse from John, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies . . .”, and I am forced to ask myself a difficult question. Have I really died?
I wrote a song nearly 10 years ago called “Layin’ Down my Life.” The bridge says,
It’s more, so much more than simply dying
It’s giving up my right to be
Yeah, Layin’ down my life means takin’ up my cross
and followin’ wherever He may lead.
Over the years I have “died” many times. When I completely gave my children to God, trusting Him completely with them, I died. When I gave up working a “real” job and trusted God to provide even if we only had one full time income, I died. Every time I gave up something God called me to get rid of, walked into a place that God called me to walk into or faced something difficult and trusted God with it instead of trying to fix it myself, I died to self.
God is calling each of us to die to self a little each day. Fortunately, it seems He’s very patient and doesn’t ask us to do it all at once like the caterpillar or the grain of wheat. And I’ve also discovered that every time I have allowed myself to completely die in one area, there’s another that He has waiting for me to surrender. I have a feeling until my body physically quits working here on earth, Christ will continually be calling me to die so I can produce “many seeds.”
I don’t ever presume to know where God is calling anyone else to die this week. I have a hard enough time working through my own “deaths.” After all, dying is a hard thing. But although dying is difficult, life after death is wonderful. I have to admit, if I have any regret about “dying,” it’s that I usually do it too slowly, because I know life on the other side is always better. And each time, much like the caterpillar, I discover I am much more beautiful for it.