So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Cor. 4:12)

IT WAS NEARLY CHRISTMAS, December 21, 1620, before the passengers and crew of the Mayflower finally landed at Plymouth Harbor. A bitter Massachusetts winter was in full swing. By the coming of summer, half the passengers and three quarters of the crew had died. That awful spring is remembered as the “Starving Time.”

The Wampanoag Indians cautiously observed from a distance for several months. Finally, they stepped in to help, teaching the pilgrims how best to cultivate the hardier Native American maize. They taught the settlers to bury a little fish in a mound with five or six kernels of corn. The Indians didn’t understand that decaying fish is rich in nitrogen that corn needs to grow; they only knew it worked. The colonists found that an acre of corn, fertilized with dead fish, yielded as much as three acres planted without it.

Through the death of a fish and a kernel of corn, there comes a stalk of corn bearing two to four ears, each containing approximately eight hundred kernels. Through Jesus’ death, millions receive eternal life. As John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). The more we crucify our old sin nature, the more Jesus can live in and through us. Our stubborn self-will, put to death, creates a wonderfully fertile seedbed for bringing others to new life in Christ.

Following Jesus’ sacrificial example, resolve to die to self a little more today than yesterday.

Neil S. Bowers lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and four children. A state correctional officer, he enjoys poetry and wood carving.