Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Last Day - A Blog Book Chapter 4 - From the Inside Out

The idea of dying to self that one might live is counter intuitive to the flesh. Let alone a doable thing on our own.

I had a great conversation with a beloved brother last night. In our volley of thoughts and feelings, I pointed out that the call to crucify self isn’t that hard… until the last nail is needed. For I, myself, can drive the nail through my feet. And I can even drive a nail through my left hand, but the third nail, oh my Lord… may it not be so.

For in the third nail, in the palm of the free hand, I must submit to another, for I cannot nail the last nail. Circumstances, situations, persons and even God Himself, must be the deliverers of that last nail.

So as I hung there, broken and bleeding, accepting the inevitable, while pain flowed from the heart of a dying, yet dead soul, I came to the realization that I could not choose the hammer that would drive the last nail in my own crucifixion. I could not dictate the time of suffering or the time of delivery, but that was left up to providence, all the while I was choking on Jeremiah 29:11.

You see, in the death of a soul, that once was, there is little compassion, and rightly so. For if and when I say “yes” to the divine sublime, I relinquish the power to choose my death. I relinquish the padded altar and the tender organ music; playing “Just as I Am”.

Yet to my misfortune, I was suckled at the breast of sweet surrender, and not the tit of bitterest gall. And you? Do you understand that the bill of goods we’ve been sold, regarding the happy, chipper, flashy, successful, wealthy and influential “Christian Life” may actually be so far from the real thing; that we would never drop a dime on air time to watch it, let alone seek to live it ourselves?

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe that in all avenues of “Christian Life” and ministry there are safety islands of truth and gutters of error, so people can find the truth and become free, but the facts remain. We often choose gutter over island. Let me explain.

When I say gutter, I’m referring to a capitalistic, western, even American version of Christianity. It’s a version that paints a picture of big money, great health, and only beautiful relationships and retirement. Whereas, the true islands of hope and faith are often found in the dregs of cultural success and life. Meaning, God may change circumstances in your life, to make you feel a bit happier, but biblical president reveals just the opposite – “My grace is sufficient”.

So as I hung there, waiting for the last nail to be placed, I wondered if this was the image my pastor was seeking to portray? I wonder if this was the image my favorite TV preacher was attempting to sell me in his latest sermon series? I wonder if my peers were envisioning this the last time they were at an organized awards banquet, waiting on the returns of attendance figures and the beautiful engraved plaque that follows. Likely not.

Oh I love a good awards ceremony, but really, when Jesus died, few were there. Most had run away, because their expectations of the “Sham-Wow” man had fallen. “We didn’t sign up for this Jesus” is what most would be thinking, if not saying.

Most of us, when we embrace the free gift of eternity, don’t read the fine print. As a matter of fact, much like the housing boom, bubble and bust that many have lived through in the last ten years, our grace providers glossed over the fine print. And few of us, realized the gravity of what we were signing onto. Few of us took the time to read the fine print of Genuine Christianity and Discipleship in Christ. For if we had, we most likely would have moved down the street to where eternity and blessing was sold on the low shelf. I know I might have.

So here I hang. Looking From the Inside Out; like Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. Viewing life and eminent death as if it’s some TV show or YouTube video, and I’m just along for the ride. But that’s not what reality leaves me.

On the contrary, this is not a sitcom or melodramatic cinematic experience – no this is the death of flesh. This is the willing heart falling back into the grave of self. And if you’ve never smelled death, let me inform you… it stinks. That’s why most Christian television doesn’t come with “smellevision”.

Remember the crowd’s reply to Jesus, when He commanded that Lazarus’ tomb stone be rolled back? John 11:39, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Now I understand the biological reality that’s depicted in this narrative. But can I get my heart and mind around the fact that, when we die to self, there may very well be a stink and a mess involved? For death is not very nice, but often very obtrusive and demanding of its own way. And spiritually speaking, there is little difference – when it finally comes.

So from my vantage point; From the Inside Out, let me tell you, I don’t want that last nail, but I really do want that last nail. And though I may not have the power to choose the face or hand that swings the hammer and drives that last and final nail – I AM READY. I am finished. I am over.

When each of us comes to that place of finally being dead, then we will see the light in the tunnel and know our tomorrows are all seated in Him. All our hopes and dreams and fulfillments are on the other side of that flat line; on the other side of the death of self.

So, From the Inside Out, I’m watching and waiting for the final nail to be driven, so the Last Day of me will finally arrive. But oh how the seconds, minutes and even hours pass slowly.

My prayer for you is that when the death of self comes, it comes quickly. From the Inside Out, my hope is I won’t see it coming, and God will lay the final blow, and we too will be united as eternally ordained. Therein lays true joy and life.


1 comment:

  1. I like this-Please don’t get me wrong. I believe that in all avenues of “Christian Life” and ministry there are safety islands of truth and gutters of error, so people can find the truth and become free, but the facts remain. We often choose gutter over island.