Saturday, July 21, 2012


Last night I woke up with this thought in my head: “To know more of Jesus you must be willing to share in his sufferings.”

I realized that this is part of what has held me back the last few months in my spiritual journey. I’ve known this was true and I was unwilling to pay that price.

Jesus made it very clear that anyone who would follow Him and become His disciple must take up his cross and daily die to self. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that one must be willing to die daily, but that daily death is par for the course.

So far, I think I’ve only been willing to die, just as long as no one actually asks me to lay down and die upon the cross of humiliation, or shame, or embarrassment, or suffering. I’ve stopped short and stood on the door mat labeled “Willing” but not taken the actual step inside the threshold marked “Death”.

Instead of moving forward, I have padded my cross with comfort. I have done what I can to avoid discomfort and pain. I have pretended that it’s possible to follow Jesus without the cross. I have meandered along the narrow path without truly looking to Jesus as my guide.

It doesn’t do any good to look back down the path and ask for credit based on past sacrifices. What was done to get me to this place in the road is meaningless. It’s like trying to move closer to the sun by hopping on one foot. Sure, I’m technically closer to the sun when I’m at the apex of my jump, but the distance isn’t worth measuring. 

I am still stuck where I am on the path. Standing at the crossroads with my cross at my feet. I wonder if I have the strength to lift it again. I doubt that I could even carry it another foot without dropping it again. I just don’t think I have the strength within me to carry on.

As I pondered this truth, I was challenged to fall on my knees and pray. I confessed my weakness to God. I admitted my apathy and my weariness. I asked Him to fill me with courage and strength to embrace the cross in spite of the pain. As I prayed I was reminded of the words spoken by Jackie Pullinger – “The Gospel is always death for the one who brings it, and life for the one who receives it.”

I need this death to self. Without it I cannot experience the resurrection life of Jesus. It is a process, a mechanism, whereby my sinful flesh is consumed and the life of Christ is revealed within me all at once. But it is painful. It is not easy. It is not comfortable. There is a cost and it is not cheap.

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a man who found a great treasure in a field. When he found it he covered it up again and ran with joy to sell all that he had in order to buy that field and gain that matchless treasure.

I think I am needing to be reminded of how much greater His Kingdom is worth compared to whatever He might ask me to give up, or to let go of, or to abandon, in order to gain more of Him and His Kingdom. Right now I am mainly concerned with the pain and the discomfort. This is what is real. This is what is right in front of me at this very moment. The experience of death to self.

There is no glory in this. If I step forward, if I embrace this cross, there will be no cheering crowds to spur me onward. If I take up this cross, there will be no immediate reward for my obedience. There is no anesthetic to dull the pain. It is nothing but nails, and blood and dying flesh. This is what it will cost me – everything.

But, what else can I do? Really, how could I possibly turn back now? As hard as it seems, the act of laying down and giving up is more repulsive to me than the prospect of enduring the inevitable humiliation and shame. This life is but a vapor. I know it. My Lord Jesus is waiting for me to choose Him over my own temporary comfort. I need that cross. I need to find it again, and to lift its weight on my shoulders, and to carry it the rest of the way.

Here’s what I know; writing about it is not the same as doing it. Blogging the process isn’t actually participating in the daily process of death to self. I either embrace the cross and endure the pain, or not. Writing about it doesn’t accomplish anything.

So, today, I take up my cross. I hold it close. I await the painful piercing of those nails upon my flesh. I anticipate the death of Keith Giles, the fake, the pretender, the expert, the semi-internet-famous-blogger, author and radio host. He will die. He must die so that Christ may live in me and transform me from within.

As Keith expires, Jesus will breathe. As Keith fades away, Jesus will rise up. As Keith decreases, Jesus will gloriously increase.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)


1 comment:

the alternative1 said...

this is a great post--as i have learned that the only way christs life will be lived out of me is to get out of the way.