Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Only those who can die may live

Photo by Paula Brustur on Unsplash

“And we always bear in our bodies
the dying of the Lord Jesus
so that the life of Jesus
may appear in our bodies.

(2 Corinthians 4:10 NMB)
The greatest gift I ever received was to have my everything taken away. In losing my everything, God was able to show me the one thing that could never be taken away; the one thing that can only be added when we have died to everything else.
It happened to me, as it happens to just about everybody who goes through it, that there needed to be a thousand deaths, daily and hourly, in myriad form, as my flesh struggled against and resisted each death. I never died easily.
Dying to self is never something
anyone can master
through submitting to God
just once or three times.
The prize for dying to self is that, in going from death to life, a life that was always there to be had emerges. But never beforehand.
Why is it that we resist so much
the only thing that can set any of us free?
It’s because surrender is deathly hard.
It’s not until we have nothing left
that we can willingly die to self,
because we have to abandon the life
that no longer works.
It takes faith to believe what the Bible plainly says. It takes faith to believe that death is required in order that true life would be experienced, and the only way we can experience such a reality is through the action of dying to ourselves. Nobody does this of their own volition. This is why loss, as an opportunity, is so important. In loss and in hardship or persecution that we have no control over we have the stimulus with which to respond through dying to ourselves. Dying to self is easier when there are a thousand reminders of death around us.
But most often, like Jesus said to Saul, recounted for us in Acts 26:14, we kick against the goads. We don’t appreciate what God is trying to do for us.
In the withdrawal of our comfort,
even to the feeling of abandonment,
there is stimulus for resurrection.
In my experience of marital implosion, whereby my life changed overnight and irrevocably, and where there was no hope of reconciliation (which thankfully I couldn’t see back then), there was only grief, the whole grief, and nothing but the grief; and it was, ‘so help me, God.’ There was no escape. And yet, because God was all I had left, to follow Him and submit to Him, I had to recognise that I was still responsible for a life I was incapable living on my own.
When I merged those facts,
that God held me accountable for my life,
yet I felt incapable of doing it on my own,
I was brought to my knees.
It became and still is the greatest gift.
God takes away in order to give.
God truly seeks to bring us to our knees; not because he is a harsh God, but because when we hold anything back from the fullest surrender we don’t die. And God can’t get any glory out of us when we are walking corpses.
God only gets glory out of someone deadly radiant.
We give up our lives
so we might live through God,
in God, and for God.
If this article confuses you, or even angers or annoys you, I still hope it will stimulate you, and make you curious.
Is there even a distinct possibility that you haven’t lived all the life God has ordained and designed for you to live? Are you in the season, now, where there is loss and grief and suffering? If so, can you see the opportunity that God has placed before you for such a time that this — an opportunity that prevails only now?
The bottom line about life is this:
do we understand what God’s purpose is for our life?
All of life throbs with this purpose. The life that is for God prevails, whilst the life that is against God remains perplexed. And only the life that dies to self, that lives for God, can even see the eternal sense in the purpose of life.
When we die to selfishness,
the selfishness we die to is life for others,
so they might die to their selfishness,
so others might see and do it too, and so on.
This is the redeeming life of God in the world.

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