Saturday, March 9th
Lose: to free oneself from; to fail to keep control of; to miss from one’s possession.
Matthew 16:25 (NRSV)
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
When I hear stories from people who have given their lives to Christ, their examples usually center around a spiritual event, or an altar call, or a church camp, or a special person’s testimony. Our baptisms are also sacraments of surrender in which we “die to ourselves” and are reborn as children of God. These moments are sacred, special and blessed. These moments are easy to share with others, because they are joyous times of faith, shared and received.
However, I believe my most profound moment of losing my life to God came during a very difficult time. My surrender was actually an act of desperation, when all the options before me were not easy or happy ones. I don’t need to share my personal story, as I imagine you have had such moments, too. What is important to share is my experience of the surrender, because in that terrible time when I handed over my life to God, God led me to find my true life.
In despair, I tearfully told God that I couldn’t keep trying on my own any longer and I needed help. As I surrendered my life to God, I whispered in the silence that I would be okay- no matter what happened- as long as God was with me. At that point I had no idea where God would lead me, but having God’s presence and guidance were enough for each day (and more than enough, I would one day understand).
Immediate and profound relief overwhelmed me. I could feel the Spirit with me, loving me, holding me, helping me. Genuine peace filled my soul. There were still very difficult days ahead but every morning I asked Jesus to hold my hand. No matter where this unknown path would take us, I knew I would be okay as long as we were together. At the time, I didn’t feel as if I was losing my life for Christ’s sake but for my own sake. Now I can understand how, in spite of me, Jesus was better able to work in me through that trial and beyond.
The three definitions of lose speak well to the gifts we find when we lose our lives for Christ’s sake.
To free oneself from. Surrendering our lives to Christ frees us from the anxiety of facing trials alone, from our doubts and despair through hope in Christ, and from the burden of carrying our sinful nature with us.
To fail to keep control of. Placing the Spirit in charge of our lives helps us to stop trying to control or plan every detail, and to allow the Spirit to move and guide us in a better direction.
To miss from one’s possession. Relinquishing ownership of our lives and giving our all to Christ in humble service helps us find greater joy than we could ever create or imagine on our own.
Losing our lives for Christ’s sake truly does save our lives. We are placing our lives in the best hands- the hands of One who loves us even more than we love ourselves. Losing our lives to Christ will not guarantee easier or better days. (We only have to look at Jesus’ life to know this!) Losing our lives for Jesus’ sake does guarantee that we will be able to face whatever each day brings, because we have our constant Guide, Strength, Companion, Healer, and Teacher with us all the way.
*All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash