And the disciples were filled with grief…. (Mt 17:23)
I remember a few years ago I used to daydream often about dying for Jesus. I’d come into some room where anti-christian rebels would take me captive and I would die for Jesus, not afraid, but with great courage. Sometimes, the gun they were using would jam and I would do some karate kid moves on them and save the day for the rest of the captives by setting us free with my sweet Bruce Lee moves.
Then, one day, God give me a vision. This time, instead of anti-Christian rebels holding a gun to my head, it was my own self, that old woman with a critical, controlling spirit. She said to me, “Are you really going to die physically for Jesus, if you won’t die to the old woman you used to be?”
I realized in that moment that my life needed some major humbling. I had walked a path of deception, believing myself to be better than or more courageous than or whatever else you want to say. I was hero of my story, but God soon showed me that I was no hero. I was bowing to the enemy, living not in the victory of death, but in my own spiritual blindness.
As Jesus stands before His disciples in Matthew 17 He tells them of his imminent death. He explains to them that He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised to life. I imagine, for the disciples hearing the news that their teacher and friend was going to die was heartbreaking.
Yet, in death, God loves to birth new life.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19).
Whenever we die, God always births something new in us . Lets be honest though, the dying part is hard, because it requires us to give up control. It means we have to set aside everything we have planned for ourselves to enter into God’s agenda. There is a certain abandonment we must always live in if we are to walk in the victory of death.
We are like dead people who are surrendered to God’s will, not moving until He lifts us up. The tragedy comes when the old man or woman steps in to try to lure us into deception and we take the bait. This usually manifests itself in things like fear, anger, criticism and pride. Whenever we rise before the master calls us we always operate from unhealthy places.
We can be confident that “he who began a good work in us will carry it out until the day of completion in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 1:6) There is always a new work God is doing in us. Sometimes grief is accompanied with it, but God is near to those who grieve. He meets them in the places of their pain to build and grow something new in them through the grieving process. If we would only but look for Him to heal our wounded hearts we would find the salve for our souls to find healing in Jesus name.
Do not be afraid to die to yourself. Selfishness is the death of living for anything beyond ourselves. Living for others and for God kills selfishness to birth in us new life to receive the gifts of a greater purpose. Grieve and mourn whatever you need to, but understand that giving up doesn’t mean greater loss. Giving up is great gain for the glory of God.
Lord, you carry us. In dying there is life. Sometimes the death of us carries with it a period of grieving, but you are with us. You are making all things new and we can stand on your promise that you will never leave nor forsake us. You make us strong and stout-hearted. Lord, I am quick to avoid dying to myself, because I love to be in control. I want to avoid pain, so I press into my own ideas instead of surrendering my own heart to your plan. Yet, I want to live differently, I want to walk by faith and not by sight. I want to walk in the victory of the risen Christ who lives inside of me, in Jesus name. Father, today I will die, let new life rise in the me, in Jesus name, Amen!