At my church retreat this past weekend there was a lot of talk about dying to yourself.
“Just die!” was a favorite mantra of one of the speakers.
Sometimes I focus so much on the new life I have, on the promises of God, that I forget that those things were bought at a price––they came through death. And the Jesus who died to give me life calls me to follow him.
Where? To die also. To die to myself.
Recently God has been bringing up the issue of forgiveness with me.
He has been convicting me of hurts and offenses I have been holding inside of my heart, things I have tried to let go of, but haven’t completely. About a week before this retreat, I asked God to teach me how to forgive, and He showed me that I had been feeling entitled to certain people’s love.
I had felt entitled to their friendship.
At the retreat, I realized that dying to myself means letting go of everything I think I’m entitled to. I am entitled to nothing.
The retreat speaker said God wants to make us unoffendable.
Dead people can’t be offended.
He said that if we were in charge of planning our lives, we wouldn’t plan wilderness times or dry times, or put difficult people into our lives, but God does that. It’s all in His plan, because He wants to make us unoffendable.
God started radically changing the way I viewed some of the difficulties that have been happening in my life.
“You may not have planned for this close friend to betray you or this other person to hurt you, but it was all part of My plan, because I want to make you unoffendable.”
The most powerful moment was when we got to the cross.
The ability to forgive comes from remembering that you have been forgiven. We gazed at Jesus hanging on the cross, suffering to pay for our sins. And then, we went around to the back of the cross.
What’s on the back of the cross? Jesus dying to pay for every sin committed against me.
That was the moment I was finally able to FULLY forgive.
I pictured the people I’d been holding things against covered with Jesus’ blood. I had been asking for the ability to see them as God sees them, to love them with that kind of love, but it wasn’t until I saw Jesus paying for every hurt they caused me that I was really able to do that.
On Sunday morning, as we sang, “I will rise as Christ was raised to life. Now in him, I live,” it all came together in my head. It doesn’t end with death, but true life: The power to rise above every struggle, every lie, every sin, every darkness.
I had the following conversation with God:
“I trust you. I will follow wherever You lead.”
“Are you sure? The way won’t be easy. It may even lead to death.”
“Yes, I’m even willing to die for You.”
“Good, because this very day, I am leading you to death. Death to yourself. Every time people overlook you, every time people hurt you, every time they offend you, every time something you feel entitled to is taken away, you will die. Are you willing?”
“Yes. Yes, I am. What is all that compared to Your glory?”
After this weekend, I am living in a new level of freedom.
God has given me the grace to forget the feelings of bitterness I had toward people. I have almost forgotten what they did that hurt me, because those things don’t matter anymore. They have been cancelled by His goodness.
He paid the price so that I could be unoffendable. And I follow in His steps, choosing to die to myself moment by moment, that I may experience the joy of knowing Him fully.