Thursday, October 2, 2014

dying isn't that much fun

When I became a Christian, 
I began an adventure of becoming more like Jesus Christ. 

A life-long, thrilling, hard, beautiful process. 

He redeemed me, fully He redeemed me. 
But I'm still here, chugging along in the midst of corruption. 
Because I was born into sin with what Christians call a "sin nature," I've got what Christians call "flesh," which is the part of me that wants to go against what God wants. 
My flesh wants Abbie to be the queen bee, the boss, to get her way, and to do whatever feels great. 
This, of course, is not what God's Spirit, who now lives inside of me, wants. 
So here I am, day after day, murdering this flesh and letting it know that it is not the boss of me. 

Dying isn't that much fun. 

Sometimes it's horribly hard and pain-pain-painful. 

"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."

That's what Jesus said in John 12:24. 
He was referring to not only His soon coming death, but also to mine. He set the example for you and I. 

I just want to be honest with you about what it means to be a Christian. I occasionally accidentally give the idea that it's all roses and sunshines and skipping through parks while laughing and holding a balloon in your hand, but that's not the complete story. 
It's death. 
It's death to things that my flesh craves, death to my pride, death to nasty awful things that are buried deep within my heart.
Christianity does involve those happy-go-lucky things I mentioned, and Jesus does share with us joy unspeakable and life to its fullest. But to say that's all it involves, and that those things comes so easily, would be a big terrible lie. And how disappointed and shocked a new believer would become when they fell into their grave while skipping through the park. 

Christianity is both
death and balloon-holding-park-skipping. 
They have to have each other. 
In John 15, Jesus explains this all so well.
He said that He is the Vine, I am a branch, and the Father is the Gardener. 
He said that when we are a good branch that's bearing good fruit, like a loving Gardener, the Father prunes us so that we can bear even more fruit. If pruning sounds painful and hard and maybe even a little deadly, that's because it is. 
But the end result is more life, more beauty, more fruit. 
(it's gonna be worth it)

When I think I've just about murdered my flesh and am really off the charts on the holiness thing, some big awful nasty comes boiling up out of my flesh and I've got yet another thing to kill. 

It's awful and it's painful and it's beautiful all at the same time.  

But my goodness, how happy I am that He doesn't leave us the same. Through this sometimes-super-hard dying process, He's changing us and making something beautiful out of our messy hearts. 
Now, isn't that something? 
He's the only one I know who can do that. 
I'll die 1,000 deaths to let Him make me like Him. 

You ask me to do hard things because You love me. 
And I'm saying "yes" to the hard things because I love You, too

I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!
-1 Corinthians 15:31

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

for more on the subject, order one of my very favorite books and let the Holy Spirit teach you