Week 2 Abide and Adhere
Death to Life
You are learning that you are happiest when you have no self-created schedule, but instead walk in obedience moment by moment. You will delight in the surprises that are unveiled and you will be revived by the wonderful leisure of trusting your Savior for every moment.
t doesn’t seem as though eating less and exercising more ought to so difficult. We may experience physical discomfort, but all of us have experienced greater pain following a weekend of self-chosen activities such as skiing or even just a pick-up game of basketball in the driveway. Somehow when we embark upon a program of self-improvement, we find that giving up unhealthy habits is not just difficult, it is a grueling task that requires single-minded focus and an almost religious zeal.
Thus far in our journey we’ve emphasized that true freedom cannot be found when we focus on physical goals. Our primary goal is not weight loss, but a closer walk with the Lord. Our deliverance comes as we partake of God’s astounding love. Obedience is the heart’s response to that love.
However, there is a caveat to this love exchange that can be described by just one terrifying word: death. The new life that is ours through Christ is free, but growing up in Him requires that we die to our own sin-based desires. More than that, we must release our tightly cherished dreams for tomorrow to the God who gives us only enough information to follow Him today. The release of our rights is frightening, and like the rich young ruler[i], some of us will find the price too high to pay. Others will give lip service to faith while still clinging to the right to decide what they will eat, drink, and wear.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.”[ii] But the instant we take our eyes off our Savior, we do begin to worry, and to hoard, and to feed our appetites now—even when we are not hungry—in case there is a shortage later on.
How to release this focus on taking care of ourselves? How may we, as Scripture exhorts us to do, die to self?
When the Apostle Paul talked about death, he said that the physical body decays, but from it an imperishable spiritual body grows up.[iii] It is through obedience that we can begin to participate in this permanent, imperishable life now as we walk according to the laws of the Holy Spirit rather than giving way to the demands of the flesh. We are enabled to die to our own sinful impulses through obedience to the Savior who died for us.
God has illustrated this death to life principle for us in the life cycle of a plant. When I was a teacher I often had my little students place bean seeds in a jar stuffed with damp paper towels. Through the glass we watched the seeds sprout and send out roots and tendrils. The children were amazed, "Where does that green come from? How does it grow so big?”
How indeed? How can such a large plant grow from such a small seed? It's like magic! Better than that, it is like our God, the Eternal, to think of such an amazing plan. He is so patient with us because we are like seeds He is nurturing. He knows what can be brought forth from these tired, sad physical bodies that are bound over to death. Life from death! That is our Lord's specialty. And when we focus on drawing near to Him and obeying Him, we get to see the miracle begin right now. Obedience is a tiny price to pay for the joy of catching a glimpse of eternity.
Pray: Father, I release my plans for the future and the desires of my heart into Your hands. I confess my fear of not having enough, and pray for courage and faith to trust your provision for me both for today and all my tomorrows. Lord, please help me to put to death the sinful inclinations of my flesh so I may walk according to the Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.