The Death-and-Life Cycle of Parenting
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
I’ll never forget the first time I realized that fall and spring are simultaneous events in Florida.
My friend Lou Anne and I were teaching a children’s Confirmation class and she came in one Sunday in early March, just giddy. Holding up a Ziploc bag of dead leaves, she gushed, “Hey guys! Guess what I found?” They all screamed with delight. Spring had arrived.
Being the Carolina girl that I am, I was a bit confused. “What are you talking about?” I asked. It was then that I reached back into the recesses of my tired, old mom-brain and recalled third-grade science class and the reality that deciduous trees must lose their leaves annually. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before, but with Florida’s November highs in the 80’s, those leaves aren’t going anywhere. It all happens at once--those dead leaves fall to the ground and make room for spring.
As believers, we are called to remember and celebrate this Death-and-Life every year, like spring in Florida. Nature’s seasonal cycle is our constant reminder of being an Easter people. Many who observe Christians around the world celebrating their Lord’s death may look at us the same way I looked at that bag of dead leaves: what beauty is there in that?
Jesus answers that question in John 12:24: “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.” Jesus was in His final days, instructing His disciples for not only what He was about to do, but what they were called to as well. His death-and-life would produce many disciples. These seeds of the Gospel would issue God’s invitation to the world: come and die. And then really begin to live!
This two-part renewal plan is a faith-based venture for sure. Who would believe that in order to truly live and thrive, we must first die? It seems rather counterintuitive. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 calls Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection the “first fruits” for a good reason: He has led the way in this death-and-life and we are called to follow. And in the end, our God wins.
Many of us have witnessed this death-and-life cycle in others. Think of believers who have modeled for you what life in Christ really looks like on a daily basis. The reality is, this death-and-life cycle is not just a one-time event, but a constant surrender of our lives to the Lordship of Christ. More dying to self-produces more life. This is never truer than in parenting. Each death in you produces fruit in your little “seedlings”. They are watching. One day, they will look at your Ziploc bag life and be so grateful for all the ways you died to self in order that they would know the Risen Lord and true life in Him.
As we approach this Easter, be mindful of all that Jesus went through—His rejection, His suffering, His death. But don’t forget to look up—and see all the resurrection that God is bringing to His beautiful world—one dead leaf at a time.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.