Sometime ago I came across this quote from Francois Fenelon, a spiritual writer and guide from the 17th century. “Volunteer for your own death, for God will only accomplish his work to the extent that you let him.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the thought of volunteering for death, even if it means spiritual death. My old nature is so familiar. I’m comfortable with who I am, especially my “religious” self.
But the Lord knows what needs to be brought to the cross. Like Fenelon, I cringe at “the very thought of the cross coming to work in me.” The Lord seeks out and desires to destroy the roots of self-love within my soul. The deeper the roots the more His work is done in secret. But I will feel the pain of something being uprooted.
The process of bearing the cross, that is, being crucified, can is slow and painful. I will need to embrace the cross repeatedly for the same pattern of sin in my life. The deeper and more hidden a pattern of sin, the more painful it can be. I simply don’t want to give up and die. But God is patient in the process.
The process of bearing the cross and being crucified is continuous. Jesus made this clear when he said, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy to being mine” (Matt 10:38). Taking up the cross and following means a willingness to accept the work of the cross in our lives.
The Amplified translation of Gal 2:20 puts it in stark words. “I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Men there is no instant fix for getting rid of those “ingrained patterns of sin.” When God deals with our old nature, Fenelon give fair warning, “He heads straight for the center of all that you hold most dear.”
Again listen to Fenelon. “Often when you suffer, it is the life of your self-nature that cause you pain.” But Fenelon reminds us, “When you are dead you do not suffer.” So guess what! When you and I feel the pain, we are still holding on to our old patterns.
“Death,” notes Fenelon, “is only painful to you when you resist it.” I am at the place in my journey where I am willing to accept the pain. His work in me is done beyond my understanding, in secret, so that it is all his work and not my attempts at self improvement
What I especially don’t like about volunteering for my own death, is the humiliation of being aware of my faults. What Fenelon observes is sure true for me. “The pain you feel at your own imperfection is worse than the faults themselves.”
As you read this blog, you might be struggling with a hidden sin pattern in your life or you might be living with a kind of heaviness of spirit. Is the Lord asking you to volunteer anew for your death. Men there is no way around the spiritual reality that our walk with God is one of death and being raised to new life. What God has for you is much better then what you strive to do on your own for him.