I sit at the kitchen table, slowly addressing the huge stack of graduation announcements for my son. My youngest, who ten minutes ago still needed me to lay down beside him at bedtime so that he could fall asleep. I look at the young man in the photos as I stuff cards into envelopes, and I’m genuinely mystified as to where the time has gone. This parenting adventure, though overrated at times, has been more sweet than bitter and I’m suddenly aware of just how difficult it’s going to be to let go. I can’t believe we’re down to the last month of high school – and childhood’s end.
Sitting across from her, I can’t help but see the toll this cancer has taken. It’s a short visit, but it feels infinitely more important than any face-time we’ve ever had before. We sing, we pray, we talk, we laugh, and all the while I’m crying tears on the inside, fully aware of how surreal these moments are. And how holy this space is. And how ill-prepared we are for life to end.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? I wasn’t either, but today it isn’t a stretch for me to imagine how Jesus’ family of followers felt as the horrific events of “good” Friday played out. No one wants what they’ve got when something beautiful is ending, whether that thing is childhood, a relationship, a job, or the life of someone they love. But Jesus taught that endings are a prelude to new beginnings:
“It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.” John 12:23-25 (ERV)
Kids grow up and become adults, and the baby I once held will one day nurture life in others, too. People die. Sisters and mothers and daughters – and even the Savior of the world – reach the end of their days, and their lives are planted like seed so that the rest of us can grow to be better, stronger, kinder, wiser people. We may not see the bloom on this side, but I am convinced that the garden that awaits us is a resurrection garden, full of life and color and fruit and energy that this broken world of ours could never sustain.
When you don’t want the endings you’ve got, you are in good company – even Jesus asked for a Plan B. But just as Jesus’ life did not end with His death, but ushered in the Kingdom of God, so your endings will be the start of something God-ordained and new.
It’s hard to see it now, I know, but seed takes time to grow. Give it time – and Want What You’ve Got while you wait.
Daily Questions: What are the endings you are facing today? Some endings feel good! What do you look forward to in this next, new season? Some endings are brutal. What do you dread most as you face this loss/change/transition? Maybe you’ve been holding onto a “seed” that, if planted, might bring life and joy and health and good stuff to others! Think about what needs to die in your life so that God’s resurrection garden can grow.