"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12:24
A friend complained about his mom, a wealthy woman who by inheritance wanted for nothing . . . but was miserable. "It's a living hell" was her constant refrain while shaking her downcast head when even life's smallest routine things went wrong. This so bothered my friend that their time together was difficult.
Dressed up and driving to a fabulous party with the same friend one evening, we caught every green light just right, sailing as if on a magic carpet. Finally, a red light stopped our flying.
I turned, looked at my well-dressed friend and passenger and with mocking tone and gesture said, "It's a living hell."
Doubled over with laughter, we pulled over and rolled out of the car. From that day forward, when minor things went wrong, in unison we'd say, "It's a living hell" . . . and laugh. The phrase helped us see the relative ridiculousness of our angst, swimming on lakes of privilege. It also helped my friend suspend judgment with his mom. Anticipating his mom's phrase, laughing, he began to say it for her, "I know mom, it's a living hell."
And then one day, instead of saying it, his mom actually laughed at herself.
My friend let his old adolescent relationship with his mom die. A new adult peer to peer relationship was born. Both son and mom were set free. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
Gracious God, there are things in my life that need to die in order for my life bring forth a bumper crop of joy. Help me see what blocks joy in my life so that my life may glorify you today. It's time Lord, it's time. I want to live. Amen.
Ron Buford is the Pastor of the Congregational Community Church of Sunnyvale, UCC, Sunnyvale, California.