Monday, July 14, 2014

Be a pepper

True - my word for 2014 - has been impressed upon my heart in many ways so far this year. I've found myself thirsty for The Word. Often in the evening, I'll open my Bible to find what is the truth in a world of shifting values.

Old dried peppers next to new life.
Scripture has been encouraging and convicting. And it's made me fascinated by this chili pepper. I moved this plant inside this fall and enjoyed its bright red chilis deep into winter. Along about March, the leaves shriveled and died. The peppers dried out. Spiders started building cobwebs over it. All well; it lasted longer than I thought it would.

No need to keep around a dead plant, so I set the pot out on the porch. It was also about this time that I came to terms with some personal disappointments. The little chili had come to symbolize defying the odds, so when it died, it seemed a fitting way to bury that hope and move on.

This spring was especially cold. It might have even snowed on that tropical pepper. But spring finally arrived and with great joy, I gathered new flowers and went out to the porch to make a fresh, bright beginning. When I reached to uproot the dead pepper stalk, I stopped short.

It was alive.

A little green leaf sprouted from the bottom. And I've been noticing how God makes it clear that in order for something to live, it must first die.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives." John 12:24
Paul said, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20
"Since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him." Romans 6:8

There is no resurrection until there is a crucifixion. This makes me really uncomfortable. I'd rather talk about "surrendering" my will to God, or "committing" my dreams to him, or "offering" my life. But this dying business takes it to a whole new level. Still, God says to die.

And then truly live, because Jesus - who is himself truth - said he came to give life. I want new life, but I'm still coming to terms with how I am to die to my self and my desires.

But this chili pepper gives me hope that God loves to defy the odds. My hope is that I can be a born again pepper.

How has Christ given you new life?

~ Susan Mires 

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