It Bears Much Fruit
“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 bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, God [the Father] will honor” (John 12:24-26, NRSV).
When I knew about God at first, I promised God. “If you heal me, I will do whatever you want of me, and I will go wherever you send me.” My spine was broken, God’s healing was desperately needed because my doctor gave up on my healing any further. As if God accepted my promise, I was treated, and I went a seminary for keeping my promise to God. After I graduated the seminary, I planted a new church and did ministry for six years there. But, when it was my sixth anniversary at the church, my mother passed away. I was really upset with God because I could not understand why God took my mother away at that time.
I went up a mountaintop, where there is a prayer place, to ask God why God took my mother away from me. I did not eat any food there, and I just blamed God as if Elijah did. After Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, he ran away from Jezebel. He went into the wilderness, sat down under a solitary broom tree. And he said, “It is enough now, O Lord take away my life.” (1King 19:15-16)
As Elijah did, I prayed to God, “it is enough, take my life away. I went a seminary because of you, I planted a new church because of you, and I worked hard there because of you. I did everything whatever you wanted of me, but you took my mother away from me. So, it is enough to take my life away as well.” As God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” I felt God asks me, “What are you doing here?”
At that time, I wore eyeglasses because my eyesight was poor. But, I threw them away. I thought I do not need my eyeglasses anymore because God will take my life away. When I threw away my glasses, I told God, “I do not need my eyeglasses; you can take my life away. If you do not take my life away, you should tell me the reason why I should live.” I thought even though I would die, I am right with God. I felt as if I would die unless God tells me the reason why I should live. For the grief of the loss of my mother, I found nothing to help me. I would follow my mother, even if I died.
We often ask God, “God, how long should I wait for you?” If we wait for God’s answer in urgency, the waiting, perhaps, may seem much longer than normal. However, God may ask us, “What are you doing here?”
Let me invite you to the Gospel of Matthew. The story goes that Jesus, Peter, James and his brother John went on a journey up a high mountain. When they arrived, suddenly, Jesus began shining like the sun so that his clothes looked a dazzling white color. And as if that were not enough, Moses and Elijah appeared alongside him. Before Jesus died on the cross, he took his disciples to the mountaintop and showed them his transfiguration. Peter said to Jesus. “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mathew 17). Did Jesus expect his disciples to build his dwelling there? Jesus might want his disciples to believe that even though he will die on the cross, he will resurrect again. Also though Jesus lifts up to God, Jesus would be with his disciples forever. That is, perhaps, what he showed his disciples as the living God.
In fact, before Jesus took his disciples to the mountaintop, Peter answered. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Following the answer, however, when Jesus talked about his great suffering and death on the cross, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord!”
When we lose a loved on or what we see that our loved one suffers, it leads us to lose our reason even though we are Christians. It is too painful to handle. We may not think of God’s ministry because of our agony.
This shows how weak our faith is! Sometimes, we confess that God is good. Jesus is our savior, the living God. However, when we have anxieties, we blame God, “how long should I wait for you?” or, “why me?” If you would feel concerns or worries to wait for God’s answer, pay attention to our Lord.
While Peter was speaking about dwellings to stay there on the mountaintop, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, from the cloud a voice said, “This is my son, the beloved; with him, I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard God’s voice, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. However, Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not afraid.” When they looked up, everything had disappeared. Only Jesus was there. Jesus wanted his disciples to be active even after he died on the cross. So, he showed them the living God. At the mountaintop, the disciples experienced ecstasy and fear. When they looked at Jesus, “everything had disappeared. Only Jesus was there.”
When we blame God at the mountaintop for our worries and pain, God may ask us, “What are you doing here?” When I was at a mountaintop to pray to God, I said, “God, I am waiting for you taking my life away. Otherwise, you should tell me the reason why I should live.”
When it became the 25th day of my fast, my siblings came to the mountain to see me. When they saw me, they asked me, “What happened to you? Are you okay without eyeglasses?” I recognized that I did not wear my eyeglasses. I also realized that God was with me even though I was blaming Him all the time. It is enough for me to live with the only reason, that God will always be with me.
When I was done fasting for 40 days, I felt God say to me again, “how long should I wait for you? Let’s go down from the mountain to my people.” I found the reason why I should live. That is why God is in me. I did not get any eyeglasses after that because God cured my eyesight. I have overcome my grief of the loss of my mother and came down with my Lord into the world.
However, I lost my American mother a couple weeks ago. I think that the grief of the loss may not be trained. My pain of the loss of my American mother came to me, bringing back my biological mother’s loss. On the way to go to my American mother’s funeral, it was snowing. It was the first snow this year. It was still in October. I drove for seven hours to see my American mother’s funeral and drove back home for nine hours. The way I went back to my ministerial field was much longer than the way I went to see my American mother. On the way toward the church, I saw the field of sunflowers. The sunflowers were gorgeous in summer, but they seem to die. Suddenly, an idea like a flash of light came to my mind, and I could see the sunflowers again. They did not die, but they bear a lot of seeds. “Oh, my God!” I shouted unconsciously.
My biological mother and my American mother, perhaps, did not die but bear many fruits of their faith. Their fruits of faith remain here, my life empowering my ministerial journey. I felt God tell me, “Let’s go to the world, where there are many sufferings, anxieties, and agony. However, do not be afraid at all. I will be with you. That is why I send you to the world for my people.”
Jesus went to the way of the cross. I will follow Jesus Christ without any fear because God is with me. The living God is in me as if my mothers’ fruits dwell in me.