It’s spring in Ishikari. This means that it doesn’t snow (much), and if I shovel the snow from on top of the garden to the sun-warmed driveway, it will melt. Here and there little green points which are probably daffodils (I planted various things last fall) are poking up through the snow, and flowers are blooming in the planter box.
|The thyme and lavender plants survived the winter. Looking forward to daffodils!|
|We looked for stuff other than pansies, but there's not much selection this early (??). Also, the Lenten rose is known as Christmas rose in Japan. It definitely doesn't bloom at Christmas in Hokkaido... and Lent might be a bit early too.|
Today is Good Friday, and I’m having coffee. I confess I didn’t give up anything for Lent this year. If anything, I tried to cultivate a heart that listens to God, but that’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time. Another confession: I have struggled with daily devotions for a very long time. Takahashi-sensei made a suggestion that actually worked: no Bible, no breakfast. I thought I couldn’t do it; I like breakfast a little too much… and yet that is exactly why it worked. At first, I was “just reading the Bible so I could get to breakfast,” but gradually I began to enjoy the time spent reading, praying, and listening.
This morning, I read this:
“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” (John 12:24, NIV).
I’ve been thinking a lot about seeds lately. Takahashi-sensei is preaching through Matthew; in the last few weeks we have heard sermons from Matthew 13 on the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and the Parable of the Weeds. Jesus grew up in the inaka (that’s the Japanese word for rural area); he would have been familiar with farming customs and techniques. At one recent meeting, we ended up joking around with Takahashi-sensei about which kind of dialect Jesus would have had if he had spoken Japanese. Aomori-ben? Maybe Fukushima-ben?
We’re renting 20 tsubo of farmland this year—I actually don’t know how many square feet or meters that is, but it’s twice as much space as last year. Keith is excited to grow melons. The living room windowsill is filled with tiny pots with tiny seedlings; I’m still waiting for a few, but most have already sprouted. Looking at the little plants is another thing I like to do during my daily devotion time. It’s amazing to see each one changing and growing and putting out new leaves; I am already excited to taste the vegetables which will come from each tiny seed.
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.” Of course, Jesus was talking about himself. Today we remember how he died to bear much fruit—the fruit of lives changed and filled with hope, love, and joy. I’m waiting expectantly for that fruit too.