Death to self in order to have life.

This idea of dying to self has intrigued me throughout my walk with Christ – how exactly does one die to self? What does that even mean? The more time I spend with these thoughts running through my mind on the Holy Spirit the more often the veil lifts and I get glimpses.

I feel like a young baby that is just being shown enough to encourage the next step. God is so incredibly faithful and patient. He speaks only when we are ready to listen and He says only what we are able to comprehend. I’ve wanted and struggled and yearned for answers my entire life, and now that I am comfortable with no answers, God begins to reveal himself. It is as if He knew that only when I was comfortable with the mystery could I begin to appreciate the revelations.

John 12:24 says:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

For me, to die to self is The Challenge. My obedience only makes it more difficult. The closer I get to living a life pleasing to God the more confidant I feel in my ability to make good choices and decisions. The more confidant I have in my own abilities, the less likely I am to consciously and consistently turn to God for answers. It’s this paradox of growing closer to God but forgetting to acknowledge God.

It’s the difference between ending a day – a fine day – tense and frustrated, or ending a day with peace and contentment. When I take the time to slow down and be led by the Spirit I am at peace. When I rush through my days without thought, mindlessly making choices and decisions, I end up feeling so….alone.

In Galations 5:22,23 we learn “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

So I can get a good idea of how well I am being led by the Spirit of God verses being led by myself by taking stock and evaluating how much of the fruit of the Spirit is present in my life.

Love: affection, fondness, passion
Joy: feeling great pleasure and happiness
Peace: Quiet and tranquility – freedom from disturbance
Forbearance: Patient self control; restraint and tolerance
Kindness: Being friendly, generous, and considerate
Goodness: The quality of being desired and approved of
Faithfullness: The quality of being loyal and steadfast
Gentleness: True humility that does not consider itself too good or too exalted for humble tasks
Self-Control: Controlling your impulses, the act of denying yourself

The first three are things I get to partake of – things that I feel and appreciate. The remaining six are things that benefit those I come into contact with.

When I spend time with other Christians – I can sense the Spirit within them. I’ve heard people speak who have been to Africa or other parts of the world with very different cultures and languages but they talk about how Christians are the same no matter where you are and it is this, isn’t it? This shared Spirit bearing the same fruit whether you are faithfully following from affluent America, or following from the slums of Calcutta – the Spirit that is within us is identical.

I believe the only way to show someone why I believe in Christ and why my faith is such an integral part of my life is to have evidence of these characteristics. These are the qualities that drew people to Christ. These are the characteristics of Christ!

That is just so cool. Even now – neck deep in writing about the Spirit, it is so easy to forget that this Spirit we speak of – it is the same Spirit that was in Jesus when He walked among us. It is the Spirit of God – the great I Am. Living in me. Broken, short tempered, sinful me. I can die to all of my failings and let this perfect Spirit shine through me. How awesome is that?

So that is what I will be working on from now until I get to go home – living mindfully. Living with a listening heart, ever mindful of the Spirit available to me. Listening to the quiet whispers and the gentle leadership. It reminds me of the ancient cathedrals that took hundreds of years to build. People would spend their entire lives building this amazing cathedral – knowing they would never see it’s completion. I’m a lot like that. No one on this side of heaven will ever get to see me live mindfully, consistently. It just won’t be done in time.

I am building a temple – one that will take my entire life to build. The difference though is one day we will see each other in our beautiful and fulfilled completion.


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