This has been a tough week for me. One where I have felt the gentle invitation of my loving Father to look at an area of sin in my life. I know it’s him because just a few weeks ago I was in a ball of shame over what kind of shaving cream I use. Trust me, it was ridiculous. That was not the voice of the good Shepherd in my life. It was the voice of the Enemy trying to get me to compare myself to someone else. Chances are you’ve had those days too, and that’s why knowing His Voice is so important.
This week God has placed loving friends in my life who are willing to speak honestly with me about some character flaws. At first, the flesh was on fire, and I was looking for every way I could find to justify myself and be right. Oh, the drama, the tears and the wailing and moaning. I was in pain. But as the fire cooled with coals still burning on the ground, I began to hear the Spirit’s small voice amid the ashes. I began to see that the Father was inviting me to die to myself once again, and a song started running through my head.
If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses. (The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”) It seemed that this song kept following me all week, and I couldn’t understand why. But when I went to church on Sunday, I realized I had the right lyrics, but the wrong song.
Jason Ingram sang a song he wrote with Chris Tomlin called “Lay Me Down.” I remember when Jason first introduced this song to Fellowship Bible Church, he said it was a joyful song with an upbeat tempo that we should sing with lots of energy. I was ready to get my praise rock on. But as we sang the song, I was struck by the irony of a joyful song all about dying to yourself. I lay me down. I’m not my own. I belong to you alone. In my experience dying to self is not joyful. It’s painful and generally sucks.
I want dying to self to be romantic like it is The Band Perry song. I want it to be comfortable and beautiful like satin and roses. I want it to be sad and tragic, but hauntingly beautiful and right. But that’s not what dying to self is. Dying to self is letting go of my pride and giving up all my rights. It’s not pretty like a bed of roses; it’s ugly like an old rugged cross. It’s not a peaceful surrender; it’s a struggle to stay on the altar.
However as His Princess, it’s not about what I want; it’s about what God wants. It will be my joy to say Your will, Your way. This is what Jesus wrestled with in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed, “Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will , but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) He was filled with sorrow and grief as he saw the death God was calling him into. He was so distraught that he literally sweat drops of blood. The emotion was intense. Yet he chose to do the will of the Father and walked through the most painful death imaginable. Even though he knew the joy that was coming, it never took away the pain or made the cross “easier.” Instead he placed himself in the hands of his loving Father, knowing the end made the pain worth it.
When I want to know what it means to be crucified with Christ and to die to myself, I must look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8) And so, as His Princess and beloved Daughter, I must choose to do the same, and trust that in the end, there will be joy. Yes, it is painful, but it won’t always hurt. Yes, it is broken, but He is making all things new.
And so I conclude this joyful blog about dying to self. Hand on my heart; This much is true; There’s no life apart from you. (“Lay Me Down” – Chris Tomlin)
Where is the loving Father inviting you to die to yourself?