One of my favorite expressions is, “Are we having fun yet?” No matter where I am, no matter to whom I am speaking, that question is one of the first and most prominent that I will ask.
Of course, it is meant to encourage others, but it also has a very positive impact in my own life as well. It is practically impossible for me to be negative, critical, or discouraged for very long.
My desire to fulfill “the chief end of man”, as proclaimed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” drives me to continually ask that question not only of others but of myself as well, especially!
That questions has been put to the test, though, in recent days. Within the last couple of months, my brother has experienced a debilitating stroke.
Being close to him, my bride and I have willingly, joyfully been helping him in his recovery efforts. But those efforts do indeed test the “fun quotient” in our lives.
A coworker got a call at work the other day informing him that his only son, who lives with him, was just found dead in their home. That loss severely tests the fun factor in the day.
An online student in my class has complained to the higher authorities at the university where I teach about my grading. This too, though not nearly so traumatic, tests the answer to that question.
Then I came across a quotation by author and playwright Florda Scott-Maxwell, who observed, “Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.”
There are times when “Are we having fun yet?” does not seem appropriate to ask someone who is being shattered by life. In this season of Lent, when we commemorate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, culminating on Easter weekend with the celebration of His resurrection from the dead, his very words have a significant impact when we meditatively consider their meaning.
Jesus, knowing he would be dying soon, when confronted by his disciples because some Gentiles wanted to see him, said to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, 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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25).
Every time in the Gospels when Jesus uses the expression “I tell you the truth” (or in the King James version: “Verily, verily, I say unto you”), he is, in essence, waving a red flag to his audience and saying to them, “Listen now, pay very close attention. What I am about to say to you is extremely important. Don’t miss it!”
That statement here signifies that Jesus is saying, essentially, that his own death would bring life to many. “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.” Jesus was foretelling his own death.
May I suggest that for any seed to produce fruit, whether it be a flower, a fruit, or popcorn, the seed must in a sense shed its hull and shatter its container?
And don’t you know that for us to grow in Christ, the same thing must happen to us. That is exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Every difficulty, whether it be a health debacle, a job loss, or a low grade in school, is in truth a “shattering hope, nudging us toward growth. Each issue we encounter could be seen as a “daily death” which is producing new life in us.
As you go about your days during this Lenten season – and beyond, for that matter – the ”fun” you are having should be producing new and lasting growth in your life and in your relationship with the risen Savior, Jesus Christ your Lord.
So the question remains: “Are we having fun yet?”
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.