now the prince of this world will be driven out… (John 12:31).
The only way for us to truly experience the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives is to die to the death the enemy wishes to destroy us with. There is a message in our hearts he wishes to plant. It is his message of destruction. If it stays there long enough it will lead us down into the grave. As it weighs heavy upon our hearts we grow bitter, angry and resentful. Truly, we have experienced death, but not life-giving death.
The only way to drive the enemy out is to give him what he is seeking from you; death. For this is what Jesus did that day many years ago as He sacrificed His own life. You see, whenever we die with God, we grow in faith. It’s there, as we surrender our will, our hearts, and painful circumstances that God ushers in a resurrection.
As we die in the hands of God, we are ushered forth in victory through those same hands. The problem arises when we flee from the hands of God allowing the deceit of the enemy to speak things like despair, hatred, and anger into our lives. It’s there, in the hands of the enemy that we die as well, but not towards a life of fruitfulness, but one of desolation and despair.
There have been many times over this past year that I have had to die in the hands of my maker. Each day, as I do, after a few moments of grumbling, I sense a newness in my heart towards His love. I feel that my heart is being made new and that I am being shaped into a brand new person, not because I am extra spiritual or some great worker for God, but because I have learned the simple value of dying in the hands of God.
The problem is, the growth process is not always visible to the eye and it is almost never automatic. We want God to part the red sea, but we must first remember that the Israelites had to journey together to get there first. We want God to give us grace like He did Mary, to call us out and call us upward with a great purpose for our lives. Yet, we must remember that it was her heart that God saw. A heart that had been growing towards God all her life.
I am finally starting to see that maybe my greatest attempts in ministry are not found in doing for God, but dying in Him instead. Dying to pride, and perfectionism. Dying to what I believe is best for my life to take up a brand new one through His resurrection power and love.
Last month I had the privilege of speaking to a group of leadership students. As I was preparing I sensed very strongly that God wanted me to come vulnerable, to show my humanity and to die to my pride. I did that and just the other day one of those students showed up at my work, she said to me, “I just wanted to say thank you. What you said deeply impacted all of us and it really meant a lot.”
Quite honestly, what I said that day might be one of my most powerful teaching moments. Not because I was preaching hard for God or coming up with the best illustrations I could muster, but because I showed a side of myself that was raw and vulnerable. I died to pride to exhibit a part of my humanness that made others be able to connect with me in a real way.
Until we really start to share with others in a way that dies to our own desire to be seen as something special we will never be able to connect with people in a way that is real and true. We will die, but not in a way that brings resurrection. Sadly, we will die to the new life God wants to usher into our hearts as a wall of protection grows up to keep us from freedom.
Jesus, you give me new life through your love. You are my joy, delight, and victory. As I die, you bring forth new fruit in my life. It is not the fruit of success, but of life and peace. It is the fruit of love, compassion, and care for others. It is the fruit of being slow to speak. It is the fruit of greater trust. Jesus, thank you for your love for me. I trust you, in your name, Amen.