As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I took some time off through the holidays to be with my family, and let me tell you: the last few weeks have been wonderful! It was such a blessing to have ended 2014 with a bit of rest. I honestly felt like I had been sprinting the entire year of 2014, and so when given the opportunity to STOP, I joyfully took it!
My girls went back to school this week, and though I miss them, I must admit that it’s nice to write again. I’m working on the FINAL edits for my book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, this week. That’s right––THE FINAL EDITS!!! I can hardly believe I’m at this point in my journey. My book, the thing I was called to three years ago this month, is almost complete! This time once seems so incredibly far off, but by the grace of God, I am nearing the finish line. But none of this would have been possible apart from God. This book is His book––it’s His story––not mine. Jesus is the author of my life, and so I honestly can’t take the credit for any of it.
I’ll be back next week with all new posts, but with my editorial deadline drawing near, I’ve decided to repost a popular article I wrote a while back about our need to die to ourselves so that we can experience true life––a message we seem to need continually. Jesus Himself said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). And so I pray this message spurs you on in your walk with our Lord and sets your path straight for this upcoming year!
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 16:24-25
I pray for growth––revival. My heart feels stale, and I know I am not where I ought to be. My desire is for the Lord, this has not changed, but a barrier––invisible to the eye but felt in the spirit––stands erect.
I want passion and fire to consume every part of my being, as it once had––but it doesn’t. Months go by, and my prayer remain the same. Awaken. Oh, my soul, awaken. I still see glory, as only found in Jesus, but glory has not taken residence within my heart for some time and coldness seems to endure. Joy in the Lord and even passion are present in moments––fleeting moments––but they’re not retained. I try holding onto them––gripping with desperation––but passion wanes just as quick as it comes, leaving these moments more in memory than lasting consciousness.
I try tearing down the barriers to no avail––they remains. Impenetrable, they seem.
The Lord is patient and present in a very real, tangible way through all but does not reveal the root behind all this nonsense, until I break. Frustration rises, and I cry out to my God. He answers, “Deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me.”
I forgot this part, somehow.
I have become comfortable. Lazy, really. I mean, I still seek God. I still pray and remain in His Word, but somewhere along the way, I became a bit more apathetic toward the things of God, and it saddens me.
I feel God beckoning: Come. Lay yourself down. Die to yourself, that you might fully live.
When I first came to Christ, these words seemed like a riddle to me––like something you might find in a fortune cookie, perhaps. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Lose your life, deny yourself, die to yourself––to live.
We must die to live.
We must fully surrender our will, dying to our independence from God, to see growth in our lives. And the measure at which we do this should grow as we mature in faith.
My life is not my own. It is a gift from God, a gift I freely give back to the God who came for me, rescued me, to do with as He pleases. And as long as I try to order my days, I will remain frustrated and will not experience communion with God to the fullest.
My spiritual growth hinges upon my willingness to die.
I must be willing to live my life God’s way. And so, it’s time to let go of my desires, my self-centeredness and receive God’s will for my life in exchange.
“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Romans 12:1-2, emphasis mine).
Weights and sins. There is a difference.
Obviously, we resist sin. Part of dying to self requires dying to sin. And I think we all know walking in sin does not lead to fruit bearing life. But what we often fail to see is that it is the same with weights. A weight is not a sin, but it is something that holds you back from being your best in Christ. Paul said, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (I Corinthians 6:12). Weights may be lawful, but they are not beneficial. They can lead you into slavery. And they must be cast aside in order to see life.
So, I cast sin––and weights, alike––aside. I choose death––death that leads to life. And pray––Awaken, oh my soul, awaken––once again, as I feel warmth begin to thaw a heart grown cold.
Revival, it seems, has just begun.