"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is
your reasonable service." Romans 12:1
"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Romans 8:13-14
Ever since I can remember I have based my self worth on how other
people view me. If people like me and love me then I am a valuable person. I
have craved love and attention most, if not all, of my life.
This low self esteem caused me to spend my entire life developing
ways to protect myself from hurt and ways to make myself look better in
other people's eyes. I have felt a need to be as perfect as possible in as
many ways as possible. I figured if I was perfect then nobody would be able
to criticize me. I feared criticism because, to me, that meant somebody
didn't like me.
In order for God to use me fully He needed to remove those things
from my life. I also had to be willing to let them go. In order to be used
by God it was and is necessary for me to be an empty vessel. I need to be
empty of myself so that God can fill me up with Him. My thoughts need to
become His thoughts. My opinions need to become His opinions.
I had to make the decision that I would allow the things in my life
of which God didn't approve to be nailed to the cross. The problem is that
whenever something gets nailed to the cross it feels like I am being nailed
as well. In order to remove those things I need to be cut wide open and it
feels like they are being ripped out of me. Then it feels like the wound
lays open for a very long time. It is a very painful process. However, once
it is over it feels great! God always provides me with something better to
take the place of what was removed.
I developed some talents over the years of which I was proud. I was
a very good secretary, I was very organized, I was a good mom, I was a good
wife, I was a good housekeeper, and many other things. I found out I wasn't
as great as I thought I was. I started losing things in my terrific filing
system. I got fired from a secretarial position and wasn't told why. I looked around and found
that I was far from perfect in all the areas I prided myself on. It was
devastating! I was crushed!
Then God started isolating me from my friends. I had relied on
them to verify that I was a valuable person. God was trying to get me
to look to Him for that verification. I was spinning in circles with
no where to go. I was looking for anything that I could use to say
that I was good at something and couldn't find anything.
Then I realized that God gave me all the talents I possess. He gave
me the brain and the body that allow me to do things. It was only through
Him that I was able to be good at anything. Without Him I was nothing. That
was my first big dying-to-self episode.
I have since then continued to ask God to show me thing things in my
life that need to go. He has. Then I have to ask Him to help me let go. I
often squeal like a stuck pig and hang on tightly when it happens, but once
it is over I can look back and see how much better off I am without that
particular thing. I am more able to do the things God wants me to do because
I have removed another human thing that gets in the way. Like I said,
He then replaces what was removed with something even better or He takes
what was good in the first place and slaps His personal seal of approval on
it and gives it back better than before.
I have frequent relapses. It is easy to slide right back into bad
habits that were so carefully developed over so many years! God is patient
with me and never condemns me. He always forgives me when I repent.
Dying-to-self is a never-ending process. I have to continually ask
God to show me what needs to be removed in my life. I want to be used by
Him. In order to be used I need to offer my body as a living sacrifice. It
has to be acceptable to Him. I've had to come face to face with the
fact that I must decrease so He can increase. I am learning how to
deal with the fact that my feelings and my wants are not the most important
things if I am to be used by God.
I've gone through some major changes in my life thanks to
dying-to-self. Some take longer than others. Some are much more scary or
painful than others. I have to take up my cross daily and be ready to nail
whatever is necessary to that cross. Is it fun? Absolutely, positively, NO
WAY! Is it worth it? You bet it is!
The more that time goes on and the more serious I get about my
relationship with God the more He expects from me. Ultimately, He
expects me to live for Him and not at all for myself. There are some
other studies here at the Clarion Call that pertain to dying-to-self.
They are "A Call to
Holiness" and "Dying-to-Self
5. Oh My Gosh, I'm a Prophet!