I am so excited to be posting today! I have been waiting for the green light from God to chat about this since the first blog entry—in fact, it is what prompted me to start glimpsedglory—so believe me when I tell you that my entire body is smiling this morning. I am absolutely giddy at the prospect of writing it down, imagining your faces as you read it, then grabbing hands and dancing down the streets of Jerusalem with you!
I sometimes get frustrated when I am plinking away on this keyboard trying to convey a sense of urgency about the subject at hand. If you’ve chatted with me face-to-face when I have one of these lightning bolt moments hit my brain, you are very aware that I cannot get the words out of my mouth fast enough. And you’re also aware, maybe painfully so, that God has given me the supernatural ability to get a whole lot of talking done in only one breath. Now in my mind two things are accomplished with this rapid fire chatter:
- I’m able to get it all out before my train of thought pulls out of the station without me
- You’re kind of trapped until I’m finished. (If blogs had emoticons, I would’ve put a smiley face at the end of #2.)
But no matter how fast I type I can’t dictate the speed with which you read nor does the blogosphere allow me to keep you hemmed in until my breath is gone. So I’m just going to tell myself that since you came of your own volition, you’re in it for the long haul and you’ll read to the end.
God confirmed this message in the most beautiful and unmistakable way on January 20, 2013 at 3:45 p.m. I know the exact date. I even know the time of day. It was that powerful and it was that life-changing. I’m praying that it will be for you as well. I have shared it with a few Sisters but I haven’t really felt Him give me permission to put it out there for you all to chew on until now. But even as I sense His blessing and my spirit shakes with anticipation of who He will touch with this, I am asking Him to move me out of the way so it’s just you and Him meeting over this page today.
What I want to chat about in the next few paragraphs is dying to self. If you don’t travel in evangelical Christian circles that phrase might not even be familiar to you. To be honest, it has always felt like allusive Christianese to me as well. I knew it was connected to crucifying my sinful nature and to choosing God’s will above myself but it was just kind of a concept that hung out there without a clear definition. I knew it was something I was supposed to want to do but since I only had a vague comprehension of it, I certainly had no idea how to do it. I had no problem understanding that I have behaviors and thoughts that are not Christ-like and they need to go. So maybe “dying to self” meant to work toward eradicating those things that kept me from looking like my Savior. Believe me, I could come up with an endless list of things I needed to change about myself, but was that really what it meant? Like a self-help or self-improvement kind of a thing? Was that what the whole thing was about? Me making changes in me to show that I loved Jesus?
Even though I operated that way for a quite a while, that definitely was not it. All that lead to was years of defeat believing that I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and change. I convinced myself that if I really appreciated what Christ had done for me I would grit my teeth and get rid of all the offensive ways in me. I would live a holy life. But God just wouldn’t let my spirit settle there. My mind kept returning to the day I confessed my need for Christ. I had fully realized that I could do absolutely nothing without Him and yet, here I was, depending on myself to change myself. It sounds confusing but that was the exact place I lived for many years. Now don’t misunderstand. God has poured His grace out on me and grown my faith by leaps and bounds. He has lavished me with love beyond what I can describe to you but I have always had a kind of off feeling concerning this. That’s one of the things I love about Him. He knew I was thick-headed before time began and He chose to love me anyway.
Those are the days, months, and years leading to January 20, 2013. On that winter day, I was reading my Bible and had read about the sinfulness of jealousy, fits of rage, creating discord, gossip, slander, and arrogance. And as I often do when I’m reading, I said aloud to God, “How am I ever going to get these things rooted out of me? How do I die to this stuff?” and I turned ahead in my Bible from 2 Corinthians to Ephesians. I didn’t go there with purpose. I just flipped the pages. My eyes fell on verses I have read more times than I can count.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself
up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV, 1984)
Read it again, considering the topic at hand. Do you see the answer that He gave me? Oh how He takes my breath away! After years of wondering and asking the question, “Lord, what does it mean to die to self?,” that day –January 20, 2013—He made it clear. I practically heard His voice, “My dear child, you do not die, you choose to live like me. You choose to love.” And in that one instance, years of fog began to roll away and it all started to come together. Being crucified with Christ is being brought to life in love. GOD IS LOVE. If I live in LOVE, if I surrender every decision to LOVE, if I give over all I am to LOVE everything else falls into place. It’s not about what I don’t do, it’s about what I do, do.
Stick with me on this. It isn’t about not being jealous of another. It’s about loving someone so much that you only want them to receive good things. It’s not about refraining from gossip; it’s about loving others too much to hurt them that way. It’s not about abstaining from arrogance; it’s about so loving another’s heart that you can’t be anything less than humble toward them. Oh, do you see it?
The focus is not on the death.
The focus is on the life!
The LOVE LIFE.
So to me, it doesn’t get any plainer or any better than that and I must share the good news with someone. I began to tell Brett about it as fast as I could – because he can’t get away from me (another place I would insert a smiley emoticon if I could) repeating the phrase LOVE LIFE to him over and over again. I cried when I was telling him because I knew that even though I didn’t have my mind fully wrapped around it, God was going to show me! And then, as so often happens, doubt began to appear at the corners of my mind. I started thinking, “Maybe I am making too much of this. What if I am misreading this?” And at 3:30 p.m., partly to take my mind off the questions my brain was formulating and partly because I hoped she would call and chat it all out with me, I sent my daughter a text:
“I can’t wait until I talk to you next because I think God showed me the secret of the universe and I am trying to take in what my mind can get.”
Her reply at 3:38 p.m.
“I can’t wait to hear it! I love you Momma!”
There was not going to be a discussion right now. So, I sat there holding my phone and wondering:
“Lord, does “dying to self” mean living to walk and to talk the Love Life? Is living in the Spirit living in Love? To be filled with the Spirit, is to be filled with you. You are LOVE. To walk in the Spirit, is to walk with you. You are LOVE. This is it! Not death, but the LOVE LIFE. Lord, am I making too much of this?”
Please remember, I had not shared a single syllable of this with my girl. She was 1200 miles away from me and I thought we had finished texting. But at 3:45 p.m. my daughter sent one more text and she attached a picture. Both are below:
“Momma, I just finished painting this and thought you’d like to see it.”
Oh Dear Ones, how the Creator of the Universe longs for us to get the message! He does not call us to death – HE CALLS US TO LIFE. Specifically, He calls us to live the LOVE LIFE. When we LOVE, we imitate our GOD and we walk as JESUS did! Living the LOVE LIFE is the essence of being holy because He is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). He has not given us the death sentence of never ending self-improvement. He has called us to live like we have never lived before—unashamedly in the embrace of LOVE. Oh Sister, will you live for that today? Will you surrender to that today? Will you give up your “pull-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps” living and fully embrace LOVE today? I pray it is so. I pray it for you and I pray it for me. Oh Girlfriend, let’s glimpse Glory!