My wife took a pinto bean out of our cupboard—you know, the kind that you eat. Only she didn’t eat it. She gave it some water, some sunlight, and some time. After several days, a miracle happened. The ordinary pinto bean broke open. Then a stem started to emerge from it. Quite shocked that this sort of thing could happen from one of the beans that I had been planning to eat, I asked, “What’s it going to turn into?” Okay, so I wasn’t thinking.
“A bean plant,” she told me. Wow: a bean plant, which would eventually produce more beans. All that from a little bean.
Looking at the bean, now beginning to sprout, I could plainly see that it had “life in itself.” There was energy inside of it, just waiting to be tapped into. It was not just food; it was potential, just sitting in a bag in our cabinet. It was just waiting. Waiting for someone to give it the things that it needed to thrive, water and sunlight and time.
Most beans in my house will never see the light of day. Most beans in my house will suffer the same fate: being boiled or cooked, made into soup or chili or sandwich spread. Most beans have totally flown under my radar, as I never realized all the potential lurking inside of them. They had life inside of themselves, and I didn’t even know it.
There are two lessons that I learned from this. First, there is more of “God” lurking about than I ever realized. This bean was proof. How did that bean sprout? I know, light and water and time. But really, what triggered it? What’s behind the chemistry of it all? What said, “Go!” to the bean, as it soaked in the water and light. Some call it metaphysics, but I call it a miracle, because it displays the original energy of God, left over in it, “planted” in it. God is the source of creation and life, we know that. But God has left residual energy and life within the creation he made. He’s left crumbs from the original feast, sparks from the original fire. Living things have life within them, leftover from God’s creative action.
But soon the bean will die, as will all living things. There’s just not enough “juice” left in them. You see, all living things have been cut off from the source of life, the Creator himself. Having been cut off from the source, like a battery away from a power outlet, living things will “run” for a little while, but eventually they will die. Life drains away if it’s cut off from the source of power. The bean is a testimony to the existence of God, the power source, from which its life came, and through which it needs to be renewed. But now we’re talking about people. Unless we humans can get back to our power source, we will perish. We’ll live and sprout for a little while, but eventually we’ll drain.
Second, the pinto bean serves as a metaphor for how complex human beings are. We cannot reduce humans down to just biology, as materialists and naturalists do. Neither can we reduce humans and their problems down to spirituality or psychology. Humans are incredibly complex, consisting of body, emotion, and spirit. We fail at truly helping individuals when we just write them a prescription, in other words. Or we fail them when we just teach them about God, without addressing their physical or emotional needs.
Here’s my point: the pinto bean had so much potential, but it was just waiting for the right ingredients to crack it open, to release its true beauty and purpose. It could do its job just fine being an ordinary bean, sitting in a bag and awaiting to be eaten. But with water and light and time, its true potential was released.
Could it be that you are like that bean, full of potential and waiting to serve your purpose? You care about your body and try your best to take care of yourself emotionally. But you’ve never been awakened by God, by his living water and eternal light. Could it be that there is so much more potential in your life, if you just soak yourself in God’s word and fill yourself with his Spirit?
You feel empty, you’re just sitting around, you wonder if there is more to life. Do you know that with God, there is so much more? He’ll grow you into a thriving plant, so that you can truly give back to the world, multiplying your little life beyond your years.
If your life only consists of the physical and the here-and-now, then you’re missing out on a truly full life.
© Samuel Kee, 2011