Three days before Christmas, Jesus gathered my friend, Dr. Andrea Blaine, into His arms and carried her across the threshold into paradise. Andrea’s departure tore a staggeringly huge hole into the heart of her husband, her two teenage children, her cherished friends, colleagues and students. In early December, Andrea had asked me to her home, explaining that she had something important to say. 

As depleted as she was, having battled colorectal cancer for five years and nearing the end, Andrea summoned the strength to share an epiphany: 

One evening several months ago, I was very upset. I asked Jesus why He
did not cure me? Why, if He had it within His ability to heal, did He allow
the cancer to spread? Jesus moved close until I could feel His arms surround me, and He whispered, Andrea, you know what this is. You understand germination. Don’t look too closely at the seed, look deeper to see the beauty waiting to be revealed.”
In a flash of insight I saw what Jesus meant. When I earned my master’s degree in Horticulture, I learned all about seeds and growth. Did you know that seeds are amazingly complex? A single seed, like a mustard seed, for example, has a remarkable nutritional profile, including vitamins A, B6, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc, just to name a few — all enclosed in a tiny round seed less than two millimeters in diameter! The full potential of the plant is contained in that tiny seed.
Jesus explained that I was never meant to remain a seed forever, enclosed and protected. My seed coat had to be cracked to allow the embryo of my soul space to grow. He said that just looking at the seed of my soul, it was impossible to know what was hidden inside, that I wouldn’t know until it burst into blossom. But that when it did, it would take my breath away.
Gazing at me intently, Andrea concluded, That’s what Jesus told me. So I have been applying what I know about seeds and germination to the growth of my soul. In both cases, only God can bring the growth, but, as gardeners, we cooperate by making sure that the surrounding soil is full of nutrients and has enough water. 
So what kind of soil does a soul need to thrive and grow? I have identified the core disciplines of Jesus as being essential to the process, and the importance of like-minded companions who help me increase my understanding and grow my ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the germination of my soul. Despite everything, I am feeling very optimistic.”

Two weeks later, Andrea’s seed coat” split wide open as the sprout of her resurrection life pushed up and broke through the soil. Her final words to me were: 

Responding to God’s transforming work requires bravery — we must be brave.
We must allow God to find the crack and pry it open.
We must make spaces to pray, to deepen our trust in God because He is at work.
It may be hard to imagine, but God is doing something beautiful in us that will burst forth into life.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17 – 18 NRSV).