I stood looking at a shallow dish of water in which some kernels of corn were breaking and sending forth green shoots. In that moment something I had
been trying to express came into mind so vividly. It was just as though the Lord were saying: “It is not nature’s design for kernels to remain in this dish. Even so, I have too many little babes like these sprouting kernels who are under the delusion that, having accepted Me as their personal Saviour, all they need to do is grow. They do not seem to realize there can only be spiritual growth as there is proper climate and proper soil.”
I pondered what it would mean to be placed in a proper climate. He seemed to say: “Your climate is like a framework–so very important. There are some frameworks in which it is impossible to grow … if gaining a place in heaven by and by is your only goal, then you cannot expect spiritual growth, for there is no proper climate; you can only expect to reach heaven because Another has paid your admission price.
But if life holds the possibility of an infinite growth after the Infinite Pattern, then that should focus your eyes, stir your heart and quicken your spirit, for you can live with real expectancy for the big, the significant, the ultimate. Until you have been awakened to this kind of goal, do not assume that you have begun to breathe of that Eternal Climate.”
I understood the importance of a proper climate, now–what was the proper soil? Then I remembered a verse that is often quoted at this point as the answer: “But go on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” … As I looked again at the little kernels in which death and decay was working, yet in which life was sprouting forth, I realized the importance of being transferred into “another dish”–into the environment or soil of His grace. As long as the little kernel remained in the dish, it was still living from its own stored up nutrients. Similarly, as long as there is no changing of the center of my life from self to God, there can be no real growth, or living by Him as my new source of Life. Living on the soil of myself, I simply cannot (really) grow.
We are not made to grow as a self-centered being–living in a display dish … We are designed to grow as our roots are in HIM. Hence the very first step in growing spiritually is a transplanting–a shifting from a self-centered to a God-centered source of life: this is growing in grace. And further, we must become alive and completely harmonized in the climate of His desire and purpose: this is growing in knowledge.
How all this cuts across a great deal of modern emphasis which would find all the answers within yourself! “Discover yourself, cultivate yourself, express yourself”–these are the slogans. And for awhile this emphasis works. It gives you a shot in the arm of positive assertion and turns you away from negativism. So far so good! But only “so far.” Beyond that initial boost it cannot go. Living in one’s own soul-soil, resources are very quickly exhausted. So the one with an ambition for self-discovery, self-cultivation and self-expression turns to another cult for another “shot.” The soil of self was never intended to be the seed-bed of eternal values.
A lady, very proper in appearance and outlook, who never talked to God except in the language of the King James Version, heard Christ saying to her in a service one afternoon: “This isn’t for you. Come outside, I want to talk with you.” She protested that she would have to climb over three people, one of them her husband, to get out, and they would consider her ill and unbalanced. His Voice persisted. So she went out.
In murmuring she pondered: “But suppose He wouldn’t be there when I got out there?” He was there! And insisted, “Let’s take a walk.” They went up the hill to the chapel. There He seemed to impel her to pull out of her inner life, resentments and self-centeredness and lay them before Him. She was ashamed and said limply: “What shall I do?” “Suppose we have a funeral right here,” He replied. And they did! She discovered what it meant to change climate–and to change soil. She saw herself buried with Christ, but also raised to a newness of life. SHE WAS PLANTED INTO A NEW SOIL. [“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” – Rom. 6:4 NKJV.] Now her roots were in Him instead of in herself. When they walked down the hill there was evidence all over her face. Instead of being a wild flower, she was as a lovely flower breathing a new climate with roots LIVING IN HIM.
I think sometimes we will grieve when we meet the Lord Jesus and realize how blind and ignorant we were when He brought people to us who needed help. So often we intruded into their lives; we tried to find out what was wrong. But that should not be our first concern. Our first business is to pray and counsel them to turn toward Him… Have we not, at times, seen a whole group or congregation become so dependent upon their pastor or teacher that they never develop their own roots in the Lord Jesus? Therefore the whole church becomes simply a lovely display dish–living unto itself.
It is quite imperative that God should break whatever “dish” confines or limits us. And this is what happens so often as He begins to shake lives that they may be settled on something unshakeable [Heb. 12:26-28]. Only as our roots go down into Him can there be expansion in our heart and preparation to accept these enlarging conceptions:
Jesus died for me. –>
..His death provides victorious life for me. –>
….In Him I died to become alive unto God. –>
……Life has one passion and purpose: bringing honor, glory and satisfaction unto Him.
Adapted from DeVern Fromke, No Other Foundation. Cloverdale, IN: Sure Foundation Publishers, 1964. 21-23. Copyright DeVern Fromke. Edited by JBW; used with permission.