“See it as a chance to die.”
It’s what I heard walking in the back door after kicking my shoes off with the scattered shoes from every other person in my family. I saw all those shoes, not even in simple pile, and thought of all the times I’ve bent over to pick up shoes and put them in their right place, or called the shoes’ rightful owner to come pick them up and put them in their right place, and I thought, “Why do I even try? I clean up after people all the time, trying to keep some semblance of order in this house but it’s a loosing battle. I mind as well just get rid of the laundry baskets, cause everyone just throws their dirty clothes on the floor. And I mind as well get rid of the shoe box on the patio cause people in this house don’t even seem to care if two shoes are in close proximity to one another!”
As I walked into the kitchen throwing my mental pity party, taking note of all the misplaced coats, hats, blankets, toys, gaming controls, mail, dishes, pens, pencils, papers, and clothing, I heard Elizabeth Elliot say, “See it as a chance to die!”
I really love E. Elliot. She’s one of my spiritual “older women”. She’s a no-nonsense, Five Solae exalting woman. You can’t listen to her and not be clear about the gospel of Christ or His amazing love or our sinfulness. One of Elliot’s inspirations was Amy Charmichael. It was Amy who originally said, “Missionary life is simply as a chance to die!” inspiring Elliot to apply that truth to her everyday life.
Christians are called to a most peculiar calling: to die daily. We don’t die in the 6 foot under sense daily, but we die to our own “rights” and plans and powers.
Usually when I hear those words from Christ in Luke, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.“, I think of big sacrifices.
Missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Elizabeth Elliot surely did take up their crosses and follow Jesus in their work as missionaries, but loosing one’s life for Christ sake is not lived out only by missionaries and pastors and those in “full-time ministry”.
Every shoe picked up with a heart of forgiveness, every gentle call to a child to come clean up after themselves, every patient ignoring of a pile of laundry to look into the eyes of world-weary man who’s inviting you to just come sit with him for awhile… all this is a daily dying. And every irritation I run into in a day is another chance for me to die. Again.
But there’s more. Notice the goal of what Christ said , “… but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
I don’t really want to die. Neither in the six foot under sense, nor in the daily stuff sense. I want to live! And if you look at the goal of what Christ is saying here, dying isn’t the ultimate goal either! Living is!
The difference between what I believe and what the health and wealth, get-your-best-life-now folks believe is time. I believe what Christ said: if we loose our lives now for his sake, we will actually be saving it. In this life we don’t strive to get our best life and the best stuff and the fountain of youth. In this life we lay all that down to love others in Christ’s name… with his character. But in the resurrection we will have no death, no disease, no lack, no pain… pleasures forevermore in the presence of our Savior!
So yes, I choose to see those shoes and the daily messes as a chance to die, but beyond that dying I see my best life coming.
Oh Lord, give me eyes to look past the messes and irritations and daily dyings to the beyond-words life I’ve tasted of in the Spirit now, but will one day fully experience!
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
– Colossians 3:2-4