Do you find that the most profound questions come when talking to children? If you are patient enough to listen, you can hear amazing the wisdom in the words of a young child. Usually, I am not patient enough, but every once in awhile, I will listen long enough to hear the voice of God.
I remember in particular a conversation many years ago, with my son in the spring when he was about 3 or 4. We were looking at my wife, Lori’s, flower garden and there were some crocuses coming up through the dirt. I said to Joshua, “Look at the flowers coming up.” He looked and didn’t see anything that looked like a flower and said, “I don’t see any flowers, Daddy.”
I realized that of course he needed to see something with petals to see a flower. So, I said, “That is a crocus plant that will grow into a flower.” He asked, “How do you know it will be a flower?” I began to explain that there were flowers on the plant the spring before and how it dies in the winter and then in the next spring it comes back to life and grows more flowers again.
I even threw in some words about Jesus coming back to life like a good pastor/father. Joshua didn’t take the theological bait but he did say something that made me think about the resurrection. “Daddy, are they the same flowers?”
Those words stopped me for a moment because the answer to my son was a yes-and-no kind of answer. Yes, the flowers are the same because they look the same and they come from the same root system. But no, they aren’t the same flowers because they are new flowers.
In those same words, I heard my own thoughts about life after death. Will we be the same people that we are now? Looking at Jesus it seems to be the same yes-and-no answer. Jesus says to Thomas, look at my hands and feet and see that I am the same one who was crucified. Yet, the disciples didn’t recognize him at first and Jesus seems to have a much different kind of body. Yes it is Jesus, but no he is not the same. Jesus has become a new creature in the resurrection. God gives life in a new way.
This too is our story. We live the story of death and resurrection in each of our lives. Parts of our lives pass away — childhood, adolescence, youth, middle age, abilities, involvements, careers, friendships, etc. — Wisdom grows out of these experiences and we see our lives continue in different forms until we come to death itself.
How do I know life will continue after my body is put in the ground? Well—how did I know that the sprouts would come to bring flowers? I had seen evidence before! Jesus comes to show the disciples and us the evidence that life rules over death.
Will we be the same people we are now? Yes, and no. Yes—each of us is a unique, beautiful creation of God. But, no — we will be different that we are in this world. We will be something even more wonderful than we can imagine.
Photo: Pastor John Weisenburger St. John’s Lutheran Church Kasson