Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24)
In the initial stage, the Christian enjoys that honeymoon time with the Lord, basking in the sunshine of God’s love, high up on that stalk, like a kernel of wheat, enjoying the myriad of conferences and prayer meetings. But after a while he begins to realize that all is not well as his old-self keeps getting in the way pulling him down many a time and ruining his testimony. Try as he might to live a self-less and holy life, he is beset with failure after failure. Soon he begins to long for the Christ Life within, to be able to walk more in the Spirit and less in the flesh.
In response to that heart-cry¸ the Heavenly Gardener, begins to loosen the golden kernel of wheat from its comfortable nest high up on the stalk and lets it fall down into the dark damp ground below where the sunshine does not reach and all is dark and uncomfortable. Further, the grain is trampled upon and crushed and put to death is slow agonizing phases. Needless to say, this is a time for much bewilderment, pain and confusion in the Christian’s life. What we cannot see at this time is that the shiny kernel of golden wheat though beautiful to look at, possesses a hard exterior that prohibits life from coming forth. This is true of any seed, no matter how rare or precious it is. It is only when that grain or seed falls to the ground and dies that the germ of life contained within can come out and yield new life. If it does not die, it remains alone with all its hardness and earthly glory. But only if it dies, can the life contained within come forth and yield new life in return.
This is a vital stage in the Christian’s growth and little does he realize how “on track with God” he is. The above scripture in Jn 12:24 clearly reveals to us another of God’s paradoxical principles at work here, which is life out of death. Without death, there can be no life. Calvary precedes Pentecost, Crucifixion precedes Resurrection and so Death precedes Life. There are many programs and self-help techniques that claim to make you alive and indeed they may seem to possess life, but it will not be resurrection life. Resurrection life can only come forth after one has died. Jesus could only enter into His resurrection after He had first entered into His death.
“God works by paradox. The way up is the way down, success comes via failure, life springs out of death, etc. The only element in the believer’s life that crumbles is that which has to go anyway — the new life can never be harmed or affected. This disintegration is something the believer cannot enter into nor engineer on his own — self will never cast out self. He has to be led into it by the mercy of the Holy Spirit – into failure; abject and total. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest of our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11). So often the means utilized by the Spirit is an unregenerate spouse, the boss in the office, poor health, etc. A thousand and one things are used by Him – in fact, everything (Romans 8:28-29), to bring out the worst in us, ultimately enabling us to see that the Christian life has to be “not I, but Christ.” People, circumstances, etc., are never the cause of failure. Self’s reaction to them is the cause, and the one problem to be dealt with. “It’s me, it’s me, O Lord.””
Application: Beloved, first realize that you are precious in God’s sight; the apple of His eye. He lays a premium on His ultimate purpose for you, which is to conform you into the image and likeness of His Son Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). Do not be dismayed or discouraged that your flesh is being broken down. It is necessary, for God can only use a broken man who does not rely on himself, but totally on Christ. For it is only this Christ-Life within that can reproduce the Christ-Life without. So instead of grumbling and complaining and going from pillar to post to be prayed over, sit still and start to thank God for what HE is doing in your life, for your life is in HIS hands, remember! And He who has started this good work within you is faithful and will bring to completion that which He has started (Phil 1:6).