This is a re-post of a note I published June 25, 2014 on Facebook. I am transferring my notes from Facebook into my Float the River blog.
I really do amaze myself. Pretty much every day I do something (or many things) that leave me saying, “Wow, really?!” You see, I am simply amazing when it comes to expecting things to go perfectly smooth without any fumbles, missteps, or miscues. Multiple times daily (ok, hourly…) I will do something and find myself saying, “Really?!” and actually be in shock. Things like tripping over a pieces of rebar, knocking dirt back into a footing that I just cleaned out, forgetting the adage that says, “Measure twice, cut once; measure once cut twice”, etc, etc.
What I truly find amazing about myself is how shocked I can be when trials, disappoints, and difficulty comes in life. Those things that are way beyond just embarrassing and trivial inconveniences. Those times that make us literally feel like we are being killed in the most painful and excruciating way.
We all know that trouble, often times serious trouble, is a normal part of life. The reality is though, experiences in life that seem the most painful are the promised experiences for those who follow Jesus and submit to Him as their Savior and their Lord.
This truth is clearly expressed in the most basic of elements related to living in relationship with Jesus. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) and Paul instructs us that we are a “living sacrifice” which is our “service of worship” (Romans 12:1). A cross and an altar, a sacrifice and a crucifixion. What about those scenarios doesn’t suggest death…gruesome death.
The reality of those verses makes me uncomfortable. I tend to reduce and trivialize them. I want to make them to be only about the submission of my will and dying daily to my own wants and desires. I amaze myself that I can make the cross and the altar so clean and sterile. In reality they were bloody, terrifying instruments that were used exclusively for the most horrific of deaths. As I have recently reflected on these texts some points are becoming clearer to me.
1) God intends to kill me and I must joyfully submit to that. God is in the process of doing away with the “me” and making the life I have “new” and completely different. I am a new creature (2nd Corinthians 5) and God is making ALL of me new. When Jesus came to earth He didn’t hold onto “self” and submitted Himself to death (Philippians 2:5-8). I must be like Jesus.
2) This process will be painful. At times it will be excruciating and humiliating. It will seem unfair and unjust. My attitude must be like Christ, “…who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
3) It will be done publicly. Crucifixions and sacrifices were public affairs. So is, and will be, mine. God wants to glorify Himself in me and through me. How else will that happen apart from a public display?
4) It is not a one time experience. Read the verses. Taking up my cross and being a living sacrifice is never a “one and done”. It is a life long experience of following Jesus and serving Him…and allowing Him to do so as He sees fit.
5) I must keep my eyes focused on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of my faith and life (Hebrews 12:1-2). If I obsess over the process and people involved I miss the work God wants to do and I will fail in my worship of the One who is sovereign.
6) If when you read this you think of anyone beyond yourself you prove the attitude of your heart. Just like I just did. I amaze myself. Failed again…