- Rick LoPresti
Come out of your shell
People respond to emotional pain in different ways. When the pain is particularly intense or repeated, some people retreat into what is often called a shell. Jesus spoke of the times before His second coming and said, "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Mt 24:12)." We think we are protecting ourselves from further injury, but all we are really doing is artificially isolating ourselves, and letting the wound control us even more. Victory does not come from shrinking from the battle. It comes from having the courage and faith to face it, and not let it captivate us with fear. Love is as strong as death (S.O.S. 8:6). We do not have to let the fear of being hurt rule us and steal our joy and relationships. The Lord said, " It is impossible but that offences will come (Lk 17:1)." We all get hurt. That is not the question. The question is, how will we respond?
When Jesus was foretelling His death, He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (Jn 12:24)." That saying immediately followed this one, "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." His death was the means by which He received glory. He knew His death was not the end. It was the beginning of something greater. The pain He was about to face was temporary, but the joy that was to follow would be eternal (Heb 12:2). This was also true for the disciples (Jn 16:22). So what was Jesus talking about with the kernel of grain? Kernel is defined as "a softer, usually edible part of a nut, seed, or fruit stone contained within its hard shell" and "the central or most important part of something". The Bible talks about Pharaoh, Israel, and others hardening their hearts (Ex 8:15, Ps 95:8, Mk 6:52). The heart of man is the central issue to God. When man attempts to address the problems with individuals or societies, he usually is just dealing with the symptoms of the problem. That is because he is essentially powerless to fix the core of the problem - the heart. So he ignores that and just deals with the superficial manifestations of the problem with his earthly "abilities". That is why the world continues to have the same essential problems it has always had (Ecc 1:9). Only God can provide the real solution to the problem - a changed heart (Eze 36:26). Out of the heart flow all of the issues of life (Prov 4:23, Jer 17:9-10, Mt 12:34, Mt 15:1-20). Seeds only reproduce what is already in them (Gen 1, Mt 3:8-12, Mt 7:16-20).
A kernel of grain is encased in a hard shell. The shell protects the seed within, but only temporarily. In order for the seed to accomplish its potential, it must be buried in the soil and die. Then it must break through the shell and push its way to the surface so it can receive the sunlight, flourish, and be productive. The shell may protect the seed from damage, but it also keeps the seed from freedom to grow. The shell must be broken. The seed must reach beyond its own barriers to become what it is meant to be. It is a struggle to push through the soil whose weight has been felt by the kernel, but it is well worth it. How often do we have self-imposed shells that we think are protecting us, but are really only hindering us from being free to to become what God wants us to be. We settle for a meager existence when God wants us to flourish and be productive. We do not enjoy the process involved in breaking the shell, but we do enjoy the results. We must have enough faith in God to come out of our shell and receive the blessings that only lie beyond it.