But this post isn't about literal death rather a more metaphorical one. The one where we are supposed to die to self.
I'm sure most of us can think of someone who had a Come to Jesus experience where their life was completely flipped on end and nothing was ever the same. Most of those experineces are not grand or something to be envied. They usually involve pits, near death experiences, rocks, and abandonment. They are terrible in reality but make for great movies and memoirs.
Now, of course we can be thankful that most of us do not typically get to a breaking point where we think we are going to die. However, on the flip side, we do feel the gradual slipping. And even though we can know it's leading someplace really good, we try to white-knuckle every last bit of comfort we can get because we think comfort is our friend. It's not.
So we hold on to our patterns wishing for different outcomes. We try to devise plans and progress charts that will show how to get from Point A to Point B with the least amount of effort and resistance hoping it will provide maximum results. And we wonder, boy do we wonder, why things look slightly altered but feel exactly the same.
Watching a video yesterday about prioroitizing/planning, I learned something signficant. If we have a pretty planner and only use it to manage the chaos we are already enduring, we didn't do ourselves any favors. Favors come when we eliminate the excess, choose what is best and leave behind what is good, and decide once and for all that it really is okay to be still more often.
But this slow death, the one where we let go of who we've always been is hard. It is like watching someone you love slowly slip away knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. And even though you know without a doubt that it will be better, our desire for the status quo to remain the status quo is strong. And the pain is real because the fear of the unknown is real. Will it all get done? What if I'm picking the wrong things? What if this is really the only reason my people like me? It goes on and on and on.
And while this refining process can feel like a descent, what if part of it is actually a climb? Pslam 65:12 says the hills are robed with joy. (CSB) What if instead of free-falling we are actually stumbling our way to the top, getting closer to God in the process? What if it really is all joy because it is all grace to get us to the place where we can see the clearest?
And those valleys? Psalm 65:13 says the valleys (are) covered with grain. (CSB) Maybe instead of seeing them as the low point, they are simply the place where the chaff gets removed so the climb up the hill is just a little easier because we aren't trying to carry all the excess.
I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted and it's not just from lack of sleep. I don't think the lack of sleep helps, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly the expectations I have for myself that are wearing me out.
Now, if our first reaction to this is But I can't stop....... that should be a pretty good indication of where our hearts truly are. So I'll give us the good news now.
We aren't in it alone. We aren't responsible for the outcome. And sometimes we really do just need to be still. And even though it will still feel like we are losing more than we will gain because our pride tempts us to think our worth is found in what we do, my guess is that in doing it God's way, we'll end up with more than we could have ever imagined. And in the end, it will all be worth it.