A new painting for you to see - 'Come. Drink.' While I was painting, our frogs were very busy..........................!
'They're through!' I gazed in wonder and delight at my newbies - tiny leeks, tomatoes and, surprisingly - carnations and hollyhock seedlings. If you've never planted seeds, you wouldn't understand the massive ripple of excitement that goes through me when I see new seedlings pushing their way through the compost. My mind races ahead to the, hopefully, bumper crops of tomatoes in the summer, bottled for the winter months, or the glorious scent of sweet peas. (They're not through yet!) Gathering up the harvest is a few months away yet. In the meantime, I have to keep close watch over the seedlings, as they're delicate, fragile and vulnerable to fungal diseases. They need constant tending - the right amount of light, warmth and water. Get it wrong, and I'll lose them!
Seeds themselves are a wonderful feat of God's creativity. Locked inside the protective coat is the potential for a root, and then a shoot to grow; the root pushing downwards for stability and nutrients and the shoot upwards heading for the light. In the right environment, the plant will reach its full potential, flourishing, fruiting and producing its own seed. But what happens to the seed coat? That gets left behind to decompose in the earth.
Jesus talked about this. He said:
'I tell you the Truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds.' (John 12:24 NIV)
Of course, Jesus wasn't giving a lesson in botany at the time! He used everyday life to explain His Way of life. His was a different way - some call it 'counter-cultural'. Jesus was inviting folk to follow His way. He went on to explain:
'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. Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.' (John 12:25-26 NIV)
These seem very hard words - especially if you've just read them for the very first time. But sometimes through our lives we reach a full stop. Maybe the job you've enjoyed - along with its lifestyle - is coming to an end, plunging you into uncertainty. A relationship you hoped would work out has abruptly ended........ Suddenly you're at a 'full stop' in your life and crying out, 'There's got to be more to life than this!'
Jesus offers us this promise:
'I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.' (John 10:10 NIV)
The promise Jesus is offering here isn't about a full diary and super-busy life (that may lead to possible burn-out !), he's talking about a different kind of Life. This is a Life that is abundant in every kind of way enabling the fullest potential for now and for future eternity. Jesus the Rescuer offers to take us away from our 'full stops' in life to offer us a life of following him - the way of sacrificial love for others. This is all about leaving the old ways behind to walk a new path to reach fullest potential as Jesus intended. This is a life-time project! Remember how long it takes for a small tomato seed to finally grow, flourish and produce its own fruit and seed? About six months. Just for fun, what about an oak tree from a small acorn? About fifty years!
All of this was brought home to me this last week when I was talking to a young woman of about thirty who had recently been baptised as a Christian. Her life had been completely transformed from shy, purposeless and living a lonely life in her flat to now bubbling with life. She said she had a new sense of belonging and value. She no longer felt lonely, even though she lived alone. Her new self-confidence gave her a new purpose in life - she'd even applied to go to college - something she never dreamt she could do! Her new confidence to live her life to its fullest and now follow Jesus was beginning to take shape!
So what about you, reading this right now? What about accepting Jesus' invitation for a super-abundant life?