I’ve grown up in church, hearing many sermons (or at least the parts that I paid attention to) and possessing a familiarity with a lot of Bible verses.
I was more prone to consider some than others, less of much of what was spoken by Jesus. The things he said seemed very harsh to me, very over-the-top. If I concentrated on them much at all, I would convince myself that He probably didn’t mean what it seemed he was saying.
Two years ago, however, God really shined the spotlight on my life, showing me how many weeds had grown up that were fed by the manure of my profound selfishness. I was seemingly hopelessly enslaved by thoughts and behaviors that grieved Him, and I finally reached that point that you might hear some people speak of as brokenness.
I had decided that I needed to get my hands off the steering wheel. I had proven that I was never going to get to where I said I was going by taking every detour in search of some shiny temptation or inviting comfort.
I had seen the fruits of this, and it was not fit for human consumption.
I inventoried all that I desired in life and figuratively gathered as much as I could see and handed it all in. Any investment I was making in my life that was displeasing to God had to go, and anything that was simply good had to be better. I needed some major change and it wasn’t likely to happen by doing the same thing I’d always done.
Life after that, seriously, was so much better. Interesting to me, though, since I repented from things that meant so much to me, things that defined who I was. Many of these behaviors, engagements and ways are the things that all of us say we “couldn’t live without”.
It was being revealed to me that, in contrast, they were things that I “coudn’t live with”.
I was dying, but in a way that brought me life.
The above verse always implied martyrdom and, in a sense, it truly does. Anything that we determine to be our passions, our selfish ambitions and individual pursuits outside of a consideration of and obedience to the instructions of Our Father are fruitless pursuits.
Now my prayer most every morning is that God would empower me to die – to die to everything that motivates me to cater to my own interests, if my own pleasure in them is my singular concern.
And I am made of the same ingredients as everyone else. I firmly believe that those things we hold onto in life, those things that bring us pleasure outside of God – those flashes in those pans – are unworthy of the time and emotion we invest in them. They satisfy in a big way for a short time, then deliver us emptiness and regret for dessert.
My wish for those that enjoy Christ as Savior, but effectively reject Him as Lord, would be to gain good enough eyesight to see the wreckage of the management of their own life. That they, in a way that seems completely backwards to them, would obey the Word of the Lord and discover that His ways only seem backwards by perspective, simply because we are often-upside down.
You want to live? Really live?
Like much that we search for, it’s often in the last place we look.
Die to yourself, Christian, that you might have life in the Lord.
- 2011, Chris Quimby