The Seed and Me

 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. — John 12:24 NIV

No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. — Hebrews 12:22 NIV

It’s cold down here. And damp. And so very black. I can’t tell which way’s up or which way’s down. I can’t see what’s ahead or behind me. I’m all alone. 

Oh, for the day when I lived in a nice, warm, bright packet with my family and friends! It was cozy and dry in there. I wanted for nothing. My shell was smooth and sturdy. Nothing could get to what I guarded within.

But one day a hand ripped open the packet and shook me onto the ground. Then clumps of moist dirt covered me, and I was alone in this strange, cold, dark, place. What did I do to deserve this? I cried. Why me? But no one answered. 

Time passed. I didn’t know when it was day or night. How long? I wondered—and wept. Just when the ground around me became comfortably dry, water seeped through the soil, chilling me and softening my shell. Then one day, it cracked open. Oh, my beautiful shell! Oh, the pain! My innermost being was now exposed to the ugly world around me. 

But I was changing. A tiny green arm sprouted from my insides, and I began reaching, stretching—until I pushed through the soil into the brightness above. Uncurling, I lifted my face. I felt the warm caress of the sun and the whispery kiss of the wind. 

Day after day, night after night, I reached and reached and reached. Then one day a tiny bud appeared on my stalk. Slowly, it unfolded, opening to the sun and wind and rain. 

“Oh, how beautiful!” I heard a voice exclaim one day as I danced with the breeze. 

Do they mean me? I wondered. I wasn’t beautiful as a seed. I only became beautiful when I died to what I was and allowed the soil and water to change me. And when I reached for the sun.

My flower is fading now, but I’m not done yet. Deep within my blossom are countless seeds, just like I was once. Someone carefully removes them, dries them in the sun, and places them in a clean, dry packet. 

 Dear God, I am that seed—falsely content in my envelope world. But You know what it will take to transform me into what You have planned. Just when despair is about to overwhelm me, remind me there is a purpose for the cold, dark, lonely times—a purpose for the pain. Grant me the strength to keep reaching and the faith to believe that someday I WILL bask in the light of the Son. Amen.

 Read and reflect on James 1:2–4.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Facing the Giant

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Photo by tmaull (c) 2008. Some rights reserved.(Flickr.com)
Photo by tmaull (c) 2008. Some rights reserved.(Flickr.com)

To celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, a friend and her husband took a weeklong sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands. Although they hired an experienced captain to pilot the 39-foot Catamaran, my thoughts at the time were, “I’d never do that!” Perhaps I’ve watched too many adventure movies, such as The Perfect Storm, or read too many articles about some hapless individual getting lost at sea.

Another friend loves to sail and owns her own sailboat, which she singlehandedly maneuvers on Northwestern Pennsylvania lakes. Sailing, she says, calms her spirit and gets her mind off her worries.

Another friend—also past middle age—celebrated her birthday by going skydiving.

Photo by Laura Hadden (c) 2005. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)
Photo by Laura Hadden (c) 2005. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)

I have to admit I envy these women. Not in a jealous way, but in an admiring one. To be honest, my inner spirit whispers, “I wish I could do that!”

Funny thing is, the older I get, the more fearless I become. Maybe it’s because I realize the time I have left on earth grows shorter and shorter, and I’m missing out on too much simply because I’m afraid.

I used to be terrified of deep water, but I conquered that fear and learned to swim.

I once remarked—feeling brave at the time—that I wanted to bungee jump the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I’ve since changed my mind because I don’t think this old body of mine would take the jerky stop. But now whenever we drive over it, my husband, the big tease, likes to remind me of my boast.

Just like he teases me about wanting to zip line. “Do you realize how high that is?” he points out whenever we see someone gliding on a cable suspended far above the ground. He knows I’m scared to death of heights.

Photo by Tara Joyce, (c) 2009. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)
Photo by Tara Joyce, (c) 2009. Some rights reserved. (Flickr.com)

But bungee jumping and zip lining look like so much fun. So I want to conquer my fear. How else to conquer fear but to face it?

By fear, I don’t mean a reckless fear or a “No Fear” attitude. That can be dangerous. Fear, after all, in the right amount, is healthy. It prevents you from doing something foolhardy that you’ll regret.

By fear I mean an unhealthy fear that keeps you from realizing your potential, from enjoying the thrill of adventure, from trying new things—a fear that keeps you in the safe corner, always watching and wishing.

What is fear, after all, but an emotion—a powerful one—that can paralyze us or propel us forward.

The fear the Bible talks about isn’t a being-afraid kind of fear, but means respect and reverence. For example, I’m not afraid of storms, but I respect their power.

Respect is important in conquering fear. Respect means you acknowledge the danger but take steps to minimize it. You prepare. You train. You learn all about whatever it is you fear or want to do. And you don’t adopt a careless, “I’m invincible” attitude.

Young Timothy had a timid spirit, and his fears were keeping him from realizing his God-given potential as a pastor. So his mentor wrote to him, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).

The young shepherd David knew he could conquer the giant because he’d conquered wild animals threatening his flock. And he knew God would enable him.

What fear is keeping you from reaching your potential? From enjoying life? Making you afraid to try new things?

It’s time to give that fear to God, forget what’s behind you, and reach for the abundant life God has in mind for you.

You know, I think I’ll add “go sailing” to my bucket list.

Father, I give my fear to You. Help me to embrace the challenges and to live my life to the fullest. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on 1 Samuel 17:1–50

Even more tea: Research how many times “fear not” or “do not be afraid” appear in the Bible.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.