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Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Die before you die ..."

Regular readers of this blog will have probably caught the slight edit that I made on this page last week. It's the quote nestled between the header and the main body:
"Die before you die. There is no chance after."

-- from Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

The very first time I read that, it was four days before Lisa and I were married (and you wouldn't believe what book I found it in). So it's been almost five years that I've had to think about it. But it's only been in recent months, and especially the past few weeks, that I've come to understand what it really means...

I wish I had known this a long time ago. Especially when I was in college. There are some who might read this who will understand what I mean by that. It was something that I couldn't even vaguely comprehend back then. But now that I have, now that the wonder and majesty of understanding has sunk in...

...It is as though I have been re-born. Again.

"Die before you die. There is no chance after."

I can think of nothing so beautiful or poetic that encapsulates, in so few words, the freedom and boldness and zest for life that comes with seeking after God and His will, as that quote.

Ten years ago, from some of the wisest people that I have ever known, I first heard of something that was a very alien term for me at the time: "Dying to self".

It's taken me all of these ten years to fully grasp what that means. And now that I have...

Anything is possible.

My dear friend Jenna Olwin is one of the contributors at Silhouette. It's a blog of Christian writing from people mostly in the state of Washington. The other day I read Justin's most recent entry, "Mourning Eve". In one of the most poignant and touching essays that I've ever read, Justin writes about the loss of his mother this past year. I wrote something like this once some years ago, after my beloved grandmother died. But where our essays deviate wildly apart is that Justin is a far better writer than I will ever be, for his expression of an amazing understanding and hope that can only come from the depths of a profound wellspring of faith...

It appears that most Christians jump ahead of themselves, not in promise but in ignorance and fear, and forget that one of the necessary ingredients for resurrection is death. [If you're about to make a comment using the words rapture or second coming, you've already missed the point.] This trivialization has the same applicable effect as talking about forgiveness without talking about sin.

Getting a glimpse at the genuineness of death stretches your faith. I'm still dealing with some anger and bitterness issues [the loss of a mother, a widowed father, a yet to be child that will miss out on a rockin' grandma, etc.] but have an increased hope in how majestic victory over death must be. As a follower of Christ, a universalistic afterlife dependent upon personal merit is out of the question. Fallen by nature and beautiful by design we are – but our beauty won't save us. However, the truth of the grace of Jesus, which is bigger than my own Christianity, is something to hold onto. We need a savior... and that Savior needs to be as real as death.

This world is dying. The world dies because it lusts to stay alive according to its own terms. Ironic, isn't it? That the more this world struggles to hold onto what it has, it just keeps losing more and more.

We are dying. Each and every one of us. We die in flesh, but most of all we die in spirit when we let our fear overtake us...

...and the world dies a little more for it.

We cannot escape our fate. But in crucifying the old self, we can let die our fear of death and fully embrace that life which God has given us. Die to self, and God will free you to accomplish anything.

"It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high."

Some might say that there is little to choose between the two ways. But there is all the difference in the world.

Die before you die. So that you may know what it means to live.


Anonymous said...

Great blog post and so true. Dying to self daily and asking the Lord to fill us with His Spirit daily can become trite. But we must truly live it out. Be like John the Baptist saying I must decrease (in my importance, my own eyes, others eyes, my rights,etc) and He must increase. We have to yield to Christ daily so that He might show Himself through us to the watching world around us.

Anonymous said...

Go up and defend Ed Brown's sorry butt, if you want to die before you die. That poor, old dude could use all the help he can get.