an embrace, a celebration, amidst death

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?…Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.” ~1 Corinthians 15:55, 57a

I don’t know about you, but I have always thought of this verse in one context only – the death of our bodies.  It has been a source of comfort to me at visitations and funerals and in periods of grief.  That makes sense.  It is the first, most obvious meaning, wouldn’t you say?

But it doesn’t only have to be about our bodies, really…does it?  We who belong to Christ are called to another kind of death – death to self:

Then He said to them all, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  ~Luke 9:23

More often than not, I find that process of taking up my cross – a.k.a. dying to self – to be painful. 

Too often, I fight against it. 

Too often, I complain.

Too often, I move toward NOT doing so until He reminds me…once, twice, more. 

All too often, I choose NOT to take up my cross.

What I know (from experience, even! – not just as an idea) is that it doesn’t have to be like this.  It doesn’t have to be a huge battle.  After all, He meets me in my willingness.  When I decide to surrender to His ways, it’s generally NOT ME that has to do the heavy lifting – generally, He takes that on for me.  After all, that’s probably the essence of “let nothing move you,” eh?

In other words, even in this business of dying to self, He has made it possible, amidst our surrender, that here too we may sing, “O death (to self), where is your victory?  O death (to self), where is your sting?”  It is possible to do this – to do it joyously.  It is possible.  The fact that we generally don’t, doesn’t change the fact that it is possible.  He made it so.

This only happens if what I want most of all is what He wants.  If the desire of my heart is to please Him, to follow Him, to give Him the very excellent gift of my unconditional surrender.  What a beautifully free place it is, that place of rejoicing even in death to self, as we run after Him. 

I have no idea, in our small and broken state, whether we might be capable of ALWAYS surrendering so graciously.  I mean, I believe He is willing to make it possible.  I just don’t know if any of us ever has been or ever will be (this side of heaven) so full of His Spirit, so whole in Him, so healed, so willing.  You know?  We hold on tightly to our right to be wounded, broken down, put upon, unwilling to trust and bend to Him..our right to kick against the work He is doing, suspect it as abuse or at least faithlessness on His part.  We hold tightly to that right.

Still, joy and trust as we die to self…singing that old song along with saints across the generations…it seems like a worthy pursuit to me.

O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?

What do you think?

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