Monday, May 29, 2017
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There aren't many visits to a graveyard that might be described as "amazing". But I had one some years ago that was nothing less than amazing. When our "On Eagles' Wings" outreach team of young Native Americans was on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, we met this young basketball player named Quanah. He made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that weekend, and he asked if he could go with our team to other reservations for the following two weeks. We don't usually add team members along the way, but because of the urging of some strong believers there and our own sense of Holy Spirits' unusual leading, we invited Quanah to join us.
When he returned home two weeks later, he told his parents this had been the greatest two weeks of his life and he really wanted to bring his friends to Jesus. About three weeks later, Quanah was gone. He died in a tragic automobile accident. His death hit his reservation friends really hard, and it helped many of them open their hearts to this Jesus. I was in Idaho, and I got to speak at youth outreaches in Quanah's memory. And more of Quanah's peers and family came to Christ.
Late one night, as I listened to Quanah's parents pour out their hearts, I told them that his spiritual home-going reminded me of that Bible verse that says if a kernel of wheat dies it will produce many seeds. And in my hand I held 48 cards of people who said they had made a commitment to Jesus that very night. The next morning, Mom and Dad took me to Quanah's grave, where his headstone had been placed only two days before. But I saw something on that grave that I didn't see on any other grave in that cemetery. In fact, I've never seen on any grave. There, by Quanah's new headstone, was growing a shaft of wheat, probably 3' high. There is no wheat field anywhere in sight and no one knows how it got there. Or maybe we all do.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life Out of Death."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 12:24. "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." Jesus was speaking of His own death-what appeared to be a hopeless tragedy that turned out to be the victory that has given millions of us eternal life. What Jesus said about Himself here though applies to many who have died belonging to Jesus-whose death has been the wake-up call that brought others to Jesus. God will sometimes take someone who is very ready to meet Him so others who aren't ready will get ready.
That wheat growing out of a young believer's grave is a living reminder of the truth Jesus is teaching here, that we serve a Savior who brings life out of death, beginning with His own. And it may be a reminder you need right now, because you're going through a season or an experience that feels like "the valley of the shadow of death." A long, dark tunnel medically or emotionally. And from all you can see and all you can feel right in front of you, it seems mostly like it's a dying thing.
Your Savior says to think of your life as a seed-one which, if there is no dying, doesn't reproduce any life. "But if it dies, it produces many seeds." If you belong to Jesus, then that sense that "it's over" is a lie. Don't write "The End" on the screen. Write "The Beginning." Just ask Quanah's precious parents. Yes, they're temporarily separated from their son, but because of their living Savior, they know this is only an interruption in their relationship with him. And meanwhile, they can see how Quanah's departure to heaven was the beginning of eternal life for so many others.
So, if you feel like the seed is dying right now, don't succumb to the lie of despair that says this is the end. Not according to Jesus-who is the expert on life coming from dying. No, this time that seems to be so much about dying is your God's miraculous way of ultimately bringing new life.
So focus, not on the death you're feeling, but on the life He's birthing - like that wheat on a young man's grave.