In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would be sharing life with a botanist on a banana plantation in the heart of Africa.
As a “city boy” I have a lot to learn about agriculture. Hope Haven Rwanda uses agricultural projects as a way for our parents to “earn and learn,” and as a job-creating engine for our community. An added bonus is that we use the fruit of those labors to help serve more than 110,000 meals per year!
God provided an incredible botanist, Derek, to help us maximize our agricultural efforts and we are so grateful that he has invested months of service in Rwanda. Our entire family loves Derek—his contagious laugh, his desire to learn more about seemingly any topic under the sun and his astonishing feral cat trapping skills (that story is worthy of another post or a fireside chat someday!).
Derek recently shared a deep spiritual lesson with me, related to bananas. A banana plant takes about nine months to grow up and produce a bunch of bananas. Then the mother plant dies. Then, and only then, are the suckers able to replace the mother plant and to bear fruit.
One plant dies so that another one can grow and bear fruit. Where is the spiritual lesson?
As my good friends at GotQuestions.org explain, “The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3-7). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process.”
Believers are called to live in light of the reality that the life we live is not our own. Jesus said that we should deny ourselves and follow Him (Mark 8:34-35), and Paul says it this way: “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
This is a powerful spiritual lesson and we see it revealed throughout creation. Are we willing to say “No” to ourselves so that we can say “Yes” to someone else this week? May we be eager to die to self so that we may authentically live in Jesus!