Originally published Tuesday, 09 February 2021.
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.
I have moved across the country twice. Both times with no job in sight. I just figured I would find one when I got there. I still look back and wonder “What was I thinking?!” Along with, “Well that was fun.” It is this type of living that often becomes the downfall for those of us prone to reckless optimism. I did always find a job and was able to make it. However, not without a bit of debt. Moving into the unknown, starting anew, and chasing the dream always costs something. Part of me wonders what 2021 will cost, but the better question is, what are we willing to pay?
There is a part of me that loves the thrill of leaving a year behind and beginning again. Bold faith, relentless love, and dangerous hopes are all things I am naturally drawn to. But I also crave comfort. It sings a siren song to my hustling heart like no other. Overindulging at the invitation of this come-hither melody usually means I am devoured by procrastination, convenience, and entitlement. I am constantly confronted with the fact that what makes me come alive and the life waiting for me without discipline are not one in the same.
This is not the only paradox that strikes me when I reflect on the inner longing that rarely gets my attention. There is a pattern laced through the Scriptures that I both love and loathe. For great, true, flourishing life to be found, there must first be a death. God floods the earth to cleanse it, He says he who loves his life will lose it, and then Jesus takes that cross for the joy set before Him. So, yes, I have come to the conclusion that I must be willing to carry my own cross, crucify the things in my life that lure me away my greatest love, and die. Of course, living this call to dying never feels good.
So now I need to make a confession: The COVID command to hide from humanity wasn’t that much of an issue for me. I see the mommy wars, culture wars, race wars, political wars, and very real, literal wars, and the sorrow of it all becomes too much. I am often tempted to choose seclusion and numbness and life in a pandemic has only made this easier. Oh, the government says I must sequester myself in my room to read books, binge on Netflix and ice cream, and sit in the peace and quiet, occasionally playing the internet philosopher—done. I got this. In light of all that is happening in the world, it seems like a perfectly reasonable option.
Yet I also deeply love people. I want to see justice done and mercy reign. I dive into the deep with people, because as one made new through the love of God, I can’t help but want others to taste the healing He has for them. I think that shared tears, and laughter are sparks of the glory of God in the here and now, and I desperately want people to know they are loved and not alone… while still wanting to be left alone. This is where the spirit and my flesh war most fiercely.
The real question is, can I kill the overabundance of comfort so that I can step into the life springing up around the world even as a virus tries to shut it down? Can I be a justice seeker, a mercy bringer, instead of a security hoarder? Do I bend to apathy and wander into the fields of careless self-soothing, or fight for the story that looms larger?
New life, right here, right now, and not just for me, but for us all. I am so tired of the bargains made in the world around me and within my own heart.
A new year begs us to dream, the vaccine is giving us hope that we will be able to do it safely, but, will we be willing to move when we are invited out of our homes into a changed world ? Peace has a price, and compassion will cost us. The truth is: new life, true life, requires death.
The death of Jesus who took that cross and rose again paved the way so that we may freely enter the Kingdom of God. It is this free gift that makes the price worth paying. It makes pushing aside power, saying goodbye to security, and forsaking the calls of comfort mere scraps that have fallen to the wayside. For that death on that day two thousand years ago brought the life our souls were designed for, and now only life given with him can satisfy.
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She is an adjunct professor, holds an MSEd, and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is the host of the podcast The Bible Never Said That and a regular contributor at iBelieve. Her words have appeared at Christianity Today, Crosswalk, (in)courage, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara on Facebook and Twitter.