“So, come what may, I’ll let no one take this death from me!” Milton Vincent
Sounds weird, right? Someone ready to fight for death? Not exactly how we think about death right? I normally think of avoiding death at all costs and even can fear death for my loved ones or myself. However, for those who know and are known by Christ, death is nothing to be feared (not mortal or spiritual) but instead is something to be embraced…even pursued. And that has been where I am lately. Now, I am not talking about my mortal body dying. No, I am talking about the daily dying of my flesh.
These kinds of experiences happen periodically in my life, and I have come to see that they are for my good. In these times I find myself constantly having to say no to myself and yes to something better and greater (though it doesn’t always feel that way). What has brought on this experience right now you may ask? THE MOVE! While I can honestly say that I see so much of God’s grace to me---I have only had moments of feeling overwhelmed; it is not the over-arching feeling---there is still that battle that rages within. I can see my SELFISHNESS completely come to the fore. I want things done my way and in my time. I can even see my tendency to trample on my precious husband who serves me so graciously because of a desire to want things done how I prefer them to be done. Last night was one such instance: instead of being thankful for progress my husband was making with unpacking, I was overwhelmed with a mess. A mess. Ummm, Charlotte, what do you think is supposed to happen when you are unpacking boxes and having to sort through things!?! Alas, I repented to my man and he graciously forgave me for my panicky response. And truly, my husband has been incredible! He has done most of the unpacking while I have taken care of our little one and myself. And he has done it joyfully as he has desired to serve me. I am humbled by him. But that battle still rages. I will feel guilty for being 8 months pregnant with a shoulder injury and not able to help him. In my pride I don’t want to be served, I want to serve so I can feel worthwhile and useful. I want to ignore what my husband says—that I am serving him by taking care of myself and our almost 3 year old right now who is struggling through the transition of a move. Yes, I see my selfishness and pride come to the fore. My daughter has had so many meltdowns in the past few days that I have not known how to help her. I just want the easy life again (you know, when I don’t have to put forth effort in loving my little one---when it is easier). I can even see my selfishness come out when thinking about our baby coming. Life may be hard. I don’t know what her needs will be. I can feel overwhelmed. And my thoughts will once again be yearning for the “easy life.”
But, THANK GOD that He doesn’t want the easy life for me. No, He requires me to die to myself daily. He is faithfully rooting out my selfishness and pride. He wants to slay this flesh and that, folks, is a bloody, ugly process. It is not easy to say no to our selfish wants and desires. And we all know these wants and desires---they are the ones that become idols. The ones we are ready to INSIST on, to fight for, to say they are our RIGHT. And they may not be bad in and of themselves (you know, it is not bad of me to want to help my husband unpack UNLESS it will be more harmful to me and stressful to him). We know that any good want can become evil. But, oh, the rewards. Oh the sweet wonder that fills up a life bent on taking its cross up daily. When we are willing to deny our own wants and desires for the sake of following God’s good Word. When we are willing to TRUST that God will lovingly meet all our needs even when our wants may not be met at all or in the way we want them to. In my case, I have seen infinite amounts of reward as God has enabled me to joyfully sit back, humbly submit to my husband’s wise counsel, and trust my Heavenly Father for all we need. I have enjoyed the AMAZING GIFT of seeing God provide for things His word tells me to not worry over. I have been blessed with sweet fellowship with my husband instead of strife and anger that would come from insisting on my own way. I have seen the BLESSING of obeying my Savior and trusting Him for my every need. Yes, this flesh produces death and to live by the flesh produces strife in our hearts and with those around us. But to kill this flesh and look to our precious Savior produces blessing and PEACE. Sometimes the rewards are not so immediate as they have been recently for me, but the ARE there---they will come.
I have read some in Milton Vincent’s, A Gospel Primer, the last few days. His words have been immeasurably helpful. Here are a few quotes:
For the Bible tells me that I, too, was crucified on Christ’s cross. My old self was slain there, and my love affair with the world was crucified there too. The cross is also the place where I crucify my flesh and all its sinful desires. Truly, Christ’s death and my death are so intertwined as to be inseparable. (p. 40)
God is committed to my dying every day, and He calls me to that same commitment. He insists that every hour be my dying hour, and He wants my death on the cross to be as central to my own life story as is Christ’s death to the Gospel story. “Let this same attitude be in you,” He says, “which was also in Christ Jesus…who became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Crucifixion hurts. In fact, its heart-wrenching brutality can numb the senses. It is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. It is not merely a death, but an excruciating death. (p. 40)
I should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God’s commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ’s death, no matter the pain involved. (p. 41)
And now to hope:
Indeed, on the other side of each layer of dying lie experiences of a life with God that are far richer, far higher, and far more intimate than anything I would have otherwise known. (p. 42)
The death that Christ died is the death to which I also am called, and the death to which I am called is my entry point to union with Christ and life at its fullest. So, come what may, I’ll let no one take this death from me!