Sunday, 05 December 2021
SITTING here in the manse, I can hear the summer sounds of lawnmowers and roadworks.
Thinking about roadworks leads me, and possibly you, into dark and dismal places, so let’s stick with gardening.
It’s basic horticulture: “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)
When he said that, Jesus wasn’t appearing on Gardeners’ Question Time, he was talking about life.
For life, growth and fruitfulness, there is a price to be paid, a sacrifice to be made. Almost always. A truly free ride is a very rare thing indeed.
These are strange times for the NHS — it has risen magnificently to the challenge of the pandemic and the funding has been there. But in more normal times?
The aim is a secure and stable NHS free at the point of need. Can that all be done by squeezing budgets and staff ever harder without any extra cost? It seems unlikely, so who pays? Do you feel you are being taxed enough?
Closer to home — your marriage/relationship. You want openness, sharing, standing together through good times and bad. It costs.
The price is faithfulness, openness, trustworthiness from you. No guarantees, of course, but what is sure is that if you approach relationships with the suspicion and readiness to bolt with which you might approach a dubious second-hand car dealer, there will be problems. You will need to lay your life on the line for that other person with all the openness and vulnerability which that implies.
You want your children to be well educated, sane, open, happy individuals with the ability to love and live life to the full, making their contribution to society in whatever way fits their gifts, yes?
Who pays? You may well pay in financial terms, but the costs go way beyond that. Who pays the time and attention needed, the involvement with them which lets them know they are precious and enables them to grow secure in themselves; then later the cost of standing back, though you long to help, and letting them discover the things you can only learn for yourself?
Raising children costs many in ways, among which the financial is possibly the least significant. It costs, and the people who pay are parents.
Then there is, of course. God. Assuming you believe in God, you will want to stand in the right relationship to him. For most believers (of any religion) the cost is trust — the trust which a tightrope walker gives to the rope. Trust in the truth of what God has shown you of himself and its implications for living and dying.
For Christians, that means above all trust that Jesus, in his dying on the cross, was God doing all that was needed, paying the necessary price, to put us right and keep us right with himself, and therefore right with life — if we trust him.
Jesus himself is the seed (getting back to the garden) that falls into the ground and dies.
Your life, rooted and renewed, given a direction and a hope, is the fruit. But that’s a whole new article.
21 June 2021
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