Dying is the Hardest Part
Very 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their 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 honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26, NIV)
Living is easy; it’s the dying part that’s hard. Jesus taught us a huge lesson when He talked about the kernel of wheat. If it doesn’t fall into the ground and die – it will never produce any real fruit. This is a major kingdom law. We call this the law of death and resurrection.
I’ve taught this lesson to our EPIC School of Leadership students, and was reminded of the numerous seasons of “dying” that Jeff and I have gone through individually and together. The Lord doesn't have any shortcuts for this life-lesson. At some point – perhaps at more than one point – we must “die” to ourselves, as well as our agendas, egos and ambitions. Those seasons are always so painful. Dying is definitely the hard part! As we've gone through this process, we didn’t always understand what the Lord was doing in our lives until many months or even years later – then one day it dawned on us – “Oh, now we get it! That really hard, painful, tearful, frustrating, ‘nothing seems to be working’, loserville season we went through was nothing more than the process of death happening to every part of our carnal, pride-filled, ego-laden life!” Man-oh-man, it’s no fun at all.
However, there’s always light at the end of that tunnel. Once we are completely dead to anything that is generated by our flesh for the purpose of glorifying us instead of Him, God finds a way to say, “Ok, now that you are 'dead' – I have you right where I want you.” By that point, any aspirations, dreams or visions we had are dead with a capital "D." That's exactly when He goes to work to perform a resurrection in our lives! He takes our “dead lives” and begins to resurrect His dreams of fruitfulness in our hearts.
Only this time, it's different – our faith is really in Him and His Word, and we are reluctant to pursue those dreams with anything but a holy fear and healthy brokenness. We’re dead to our glory and dreams, but very much alive to His.
Why is the death so necessary? Without it there’s just too much of us in the picture. In order to produce the eternal fruit Jesus has ordained in and through our lives, we must decrease and He must increase. After death, there is a healthy, deep and abiding humility. We have no confidence in the flesh; our trust is entirely upon the Lord. In that place and from that place, the Lord begins a brand new work in our lives, and from that day forward – it’s all about Him, His glory and His fruit.
Yes, dying is definitely the hard part. But, oh what joy and fruit awaits those who go through the process! Jesus was our example on a much grander scale. He laid down His very life in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on the Cross of Calvary – so that in Him, we could be resurrected into eternal life! We can and must follow the Master's example and allow the law of death and resurrection to do a thorough work in us!
If you’re in the “dying” season, be encouraged, it won’t last forever. It may feel like it – but one day when you are thoroughly dead, He will resurrect His dreams for you, and you'll experience a new season of glorious fruitfulness.
If you’re in the “resurrection” season – be happy! You've passed the test and now the Lord can work in and through you to produce fruit, much fruit that will remain, for His glory!
Say It: “Father, if there is any other way, let this ‘dying’ process to my flesh, ego, pride and ambition pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done. I want the law of death and resurrection to do a thorough work in me so that You produce eternal fruit in and through my life. Help me to cooperate with you in areas I need to ‘die’ to myself – so that I can enjoy the wonderful hope of a glorious resurrection and much fruit that remains for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”