A seed has many virtues. It’s tough. Self-sufficient. Capable of withstanding a lot and safeguarding its own fragile germ inside. It needs nothing from anything or anyone to maintain itself for a very long time. And it ages well..an ancient seed may look much the same as it did when it was newly formed. There’s a lot to be said for being a seed, and many people – even Christians – view themselves as self-sufficient and capable of weathering life’s storms and trials without weakening or needing help. Rugged individualism, autonomy and self-determination are touchstones in our culture.
But until it gives up being a seed, it can’t become anything else. The life force within that tough coating may remain intact for months, years, decades, even centuries as witnessed by findings of still-viable seeds in ancient civilizations.
Like the seed, only when we are willing to relinquish our tough exterior and dogged self-sufficiency can we become more than just a single seed. Losing that protective coating and becoming vulnerable is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. Our destiny is no longer in our hands. Can we trust the one who made us? Absolutely. WILL we open up and trust Him? Only if we choose to.
Gardeners have all seen a seed in the process of transforming into a plant – pull up a plant after it sprouts and you’ll often see the remains of what was a seed still providing nourishment as a final sacrifice of self. It is barely recognizable, a vestige of its former self.
Unlike seeds, seedlings are tender and vulnerable. Once sprouted, a seed can’t un-ring the bell and scurry back inside its safe coating. Damage or neglect may prove fatal at any stage from here on out. But with the right combination of sun, water, nutrients and support from the soil, it can become a fruit-bearing plant, and create many more seeds until it eventually dies. In a few generations, the effect of just one seed giving up itself to become a plant can extrapolate into millions of new seeds, each becoming living, productive plants.
As gardeners, our understanding of the soil and plants forms the very foundation and basis for understanding many of the mysteries of life and hard teachings, like the paradox of the seed, taught by Jesus.
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.” (John 12:24)
We can’t have it both ways – we either live for ourselves or we can die to self and become something more. There’s no middle ground.
What is your legacy? Will your story be discovered among other well-preserved seeds in a few hundred years? Will it have a clearly defined beginning and ending, discrete and disconnected from all the other preserved seeds? Or will you be part of a living legacy, your very being and story intertwined into many others, all because you chose to give up yourself and grow to your full potential?