Dying to Self

In this particular post we[re looking at an element of Christian discipleship that ties us all together. It’s our common denominator as His disciples. We must learn to die to self to be faithful. There can be no obedience unless we choose to carry our cross to a place of death.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

Galatians 5:24

But what does that look like? How can I know that I’m really doing this? Maybe this will guide you.

dying-to-self

By no means is this list exhaustive. But that is good. The principle has room to fit all areas of your life, and the core idea of self-renunciation becomes the way your spirit operates. We deny ourselves so real life can begin.

There can be no resurrection power unless there is crucifixion weakness. 

We must go to the cross daily and find our life. That is the way.

“This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him,

    we will also live with him.”

2 Timothy 2:11

bry-signat (1)

Short Timers

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.”

Ps 39:4, NLT

Typically, we avoid this level of scrutiny.  Life is best enjoyed in a relative ignorance, and we certainly don’t welcome the knowledge that our life is limited.  We are like people with a bunch of credit cards, and we impulsively buy whatever we want. But soon you’re gonna have to bay the bills.

But, do we really want to be reminded? 

Our time is brief.  Fleeting.  But the psalmist values the reminder… life has been scrutinized, and counted out.  We only have a finite number of days [they are counted out] and then we must say ‘good-bye’. 

You have an expiration date.

I am convinced that we are to be settled on our ‘finiteness’.  We are not immortal, nor are we perpetual.  Things wind down, and soon they will lay us embalmed and in a casket, and a memorial service will be held in our memory.  This will be, more or less, the end of us.  But we will go on.

Are you able to handle the truth? 

Your life will end, and there is nothing you can do about it.  Let it unfold, and take its lumps.  You really do not have a choice.  There is a limit to our living on this terrestrial ball.  We can make no further advance here.  It is finished.

The verse speaks of an eagerness to know one’s limits.  Tell me, remind me, how short it all is.  I want you to tell me, where the end is, so I can live my life in a response to the truth.  I want to respond to reality, whatever that may be.

We must calmly accept the end of our time here on earth. We can’t deceive ourselves.  We need to welcome the intrusion of a finish line. Let us live, men and women, in a full understanding of our limits.  Let us walk in the fear of our God.

“Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.
The body is put back in the same ground it came from.
The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.”

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, The Message Bible 

 

Psalm for My Savior

Psalm 116:7 – painted canvas, melodyjoy1983, http://www.etsy.com

This poem is written in the pantoum form and is based on Psalm 116, which is my favorite Psalm. I find that the repetition of lines in this form lends itself well to Christian poetry of lament and praise. I hope you are blessed by this offering.

Psalm for My Savior

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death
The anguish of death and darkness entangled me
I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!”
Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue

The anguish of death and darkness entangled me
My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me
Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue
Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep

My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me
The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy
Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep
Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep

The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy
He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul
Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep
I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus

He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul
I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!”
I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death

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I Still Grieve (But I Now Understand Grace)

Loss_of_Child

‘Who gathered this flower?’ The gardener answered, ‘The Master.’ And his fellow servant held his peace.”

It was November 13th, in the year of our Lord 1999, was unlike any day I have ever experienced. A beating with a baseball bat would seem more preferable. On this cold afternoon, hell was unleashed on my wife and myself. What we encountered was soul-wrenching and profoundly tragic.

Perhaps a parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of a child. On this day we lost Elizabeth Grace. She was stillborn, which is rare these days– or so I have been told. She entered this world fully formed, a beautiful baby girl. Today, she would of been 22 years old, and maybe married, and planning a family of her own?

But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:23, (When David’s newborn son died.)

Our loss was grievous, but we are not unique. Plenty of families have suddenly lost a child. I can truly commiserate with them. Somehow we are connected in a perverse way. It seems like an exclusive club, that requires a secret handshake, or something. Suddenly without warning, you are thrown into personal chaos, and very little is remotely decipherable, even to a believer.

The book of Ecclesiastes that there is a definite “time to mourn.”  Matthew tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn.” He does go on to say. “for they shall be comforted.” This comfort is available for any who choose to take it, but you can refuse it, if you really want to.

Grief unites us, but Jesus liberates us. Seriously. I can’t imagine meeting life without his care and comfort. He has been outstandingly gracious to this family. Sure there was pain, but there was also tenderness and a kind grace. Still, sometimes it felt like a “kick in the head.” (But I assure you– it was grace.)

What I still can’t understand is simply this. What would it have cost God to allow Elisabeth to live? I mean, what ‘skin off His nose’ would’ve it taken to let her live? I still to this day have questions, but I have decided to trust. (I trust Him after all, to save my soul.)

Those who have suffered will comprehend and grasp, the noxious environment of grief and loss. But we can only take what we are dealt. The sadness is there, but so is His comfort. Make no mistake, His love matches (or even exceeds) the pain and the loss of a child. Truly, God is a wonder and He is good.

I do know that He loves me, a weirdly rascalish, struggling disciple. He holds me close to His precious heart, and I will have no other gods except Him. I will not take up umbrage with Him on this. But I must believe that someday soon, I will truly and completely understand this.

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