I was jogging in mid-January 2017. My father passed away a few days prior and my mom suffered a stroke a couple of days later. This is not the first time our lives have dramatically changed, but this time seems to be one of the most challenging. As I was jogging and reflecting on the current status of my life, I thought “I want my life back.” What I meant was I want things to be like they were. Not that things were perfect, before, but it did afford me to have a nice, somewhat comfortable routine. No sooner did I have that thought that I recalled Jesus’ statement to His disciples. As Providence would have it, I had just read it that morning in my quiet time.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matt. 16:25).
I know this passage is often taken to explain salvation; however, Jesus’ is talking about discipleship. He is talking about His people deliberately following Him with their lives. Not a meaningless, one-time, historical confession of Him as Lord. His people are called to a life of self-denial and following Him.
There is a sense in which we enjoy His life now, but Jesus uses the future tense. Finding our best life in Christ is not fully realized until this physical life is over. We must go through the valleys. In this life, we do endure temptations and the effects of sin. Ultimately, in death this life is wrapped up. If we are seeking to cling to this life as the end all, beat all, we will be disappointed. Jesus instructs His followers to find their worth and hope in Him and for His sake. We are not to focus on the value of our lives, but the value of His life. It is only then that we get the best life, because it is only then that we get Christ’s life.
We are not to focus on the value of our lives, but the value of His life. It is only then that we get the best life, because it is only then that we get Christ’s life.Click to tweet
I wanted to save, or preserve my own life, my way of doing things, my comfort, my priorities, my control. Jesus’ statement reminded me that my attitude, though completely natural, was one of selfishness. Eternally speaking, my attitude of preserving my life would result in losing it.
The second part of Jesus’ statement was even harder for me. Sure, it seems I have lost my life, but have I lost of for Jesus’ sake?
Then I thought about what the Apostle Paul wrote:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20, NASB)
As I continued jogging in the cold, my breath was producing a cloud in front of my face. In Christ, my own, sinful desires have been crucified. My new life has been given by Jesus’ life. The old me is dead, but I am still breathing. What do I do with that? How can I bring together what is true in God’s Word with what is true in my experience?
I want to exalt God in the middle of my experience. That’s easier to do when things are good, but when my boat gets rocked and the storms come, I usually long for the good old days. The Israelites did that too. Shortly after they were freed from 400 years of slavery (Exodus 16:2-3; Numbers 20:5), they longed for the days of slavery. The disciples doubted in the boat (Matt. 8:23-27). In spite of this biblical hindsight, my faith often seems to be no better than those before me.
The fact is, it all comes down to faith. Do I trust God with this? I can apply that question to each trial in my life. Each step in my life should reflect that I trust Him. This life that He has given me is His life to do with as He will. It is far better than anything I could have made for myself. It ends in a far better place that I could have earned. It ends in a place with with no more dying (Rev. 21:4). It ends with a Person Who is Life (John 14:6, Rom. 6:9). For that reason, I will keep jogging in the cold. As my breathing produces small clouds in front of me, I will keep moving. Step-by-step, I will keep trusting Him, until I reach the end of my journey.
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