The Seed is in the Ground

Jon Stern
Dear Encouragers Family and Friends,
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.
John 12:24 NIV
Greetings from Northern California. We are now well into our sabbatical here at Redding and are enjoying the season of getting to spend quality time with four of our seven kids and their (Paul’s) family. Besides that, we have taken the opportunity to travel a bit to visit family in other parts of the country. Last month, we took a week to celebrate Molly’s 60th birthday by flying to Florida to be with Molly’s dad and Grandma Jane in Florida. We have also booked flights to be with our kids in Virginia over Easter week so we can get some Grand parent time with our four grand kids there and celebrate the arrival of their fourth child (a girl) into the world. This little one will be our 11th grand child. The grand daughters now exceed the grandsons by one.
As we take time to reflect on the goodness of God in our lives and connect with our Stateside family, we are also praying for clear direction on our next assignment after this season. Our sabbatical has given us the impression that we are like a kernel of wheat that has been buried in the ground and has died. In a very strange way, we feel alone in the middle of an eleven thousand member church and I can tell you, it does not feel nice. It’s almost like we are dead and people cannot see us.
Don’t get me wrong when I say this. I am not complaining, because I have read the gospel and John 12:24 speaks to me very loudly in our season. We sing the Hillsong chorus that says “… in the soil I now surrender. You (God) are breaking new ground….” There are things God can say to us in the dark, quiet of anonymity that we would never hear in another season. As we seek the Lord for direction, we are getting the sense that this season is more about connecting with the Director than getting directions from Him. Molly and I have the desire to emerge from this season more in love with Jesus and closer to His heartbeat than ever in our lives. God can do more in a short amount of time than we can do in many lifetimes. That is why we want to quiet ourselves and learn better how to hear our Master’s voice. We want to die, so Jesus can live, and multiply His kingdom ways in and through us.
In the next verse, Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:25-26 NIV). Molly and I want to “hate my life in this world so I can keep it for eternity.” Molly and I want to produce many seeds in our remaining years. We want to multiply ourselves by partnering with the Holy Spirit in raising up a mighty army of Christ Followers, who will follow Him to the ends of the earth. Lord, make us willing on the day of battle. We want to see your Kingdom come and your will be done. Do in us whatever it takes to make us willing to be and do whatever you have prepared for us to walk in.
So, in the soil we sit, waiting for the transformation, multiplication.  New Life…  The song goes on to say, “So I yield to you and to your careful hand. When I trust you, I don’t need to understand.”   We yield, we trust, we change… Watch this space… Jon and Molly

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