I begin this post by quoting Galatians 2:20 from the amplified version. “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. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, replying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The expanded Bible put it this way. “I was put to death on the cross [have been crucified] with Christ, and I do not live anymore – it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body [flesh], but I live by faith in [or because of the faithfulness of ] the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me [for me; on my behalf].”
The amplified tells me that I have shared Christ’s crucifixion, while the expanded says “I was put to death on the cross.” Sometimes this is hard to practice, especially when you are blindsided. Francois Fenelon, a 17th century spiritual guide talks about volunteering for your own death. He informs me that “I don’t need to be cured but killed; that is, brought to death…..When God aims to kill my self-nature, He touches the tenderest spot.” This can be very painful. His advise – “Never be discouraged with yourself. Despondency is not humility. Actually despondency is the despair of your wounded pride. Your faults may be useful to you if they cure you of the vain confidence you have in yourself.”
I share Gal 2:2o and Fenelon’s perspective on spiritual death because of a recent incident I had with one of my children’s annual family visit to the lake. After my wife, my greatest concern spiritual is for my family. With all my heart, I desire to be a loving, caring presence for my teenage grandchildren. Well, I blow it royally. I got angry and had to walk away from a particular situation. I was despondent. Yes, it was the despair of my wounded pride. It was painful. Fenelon reminds me, “……sensitivity points out that there is still something alive within that has not died to self.” I knew I was wrong in my behavior.
I had to leave. So I got on my four wheeler and went for a long ride. I wanted to cry. I was confused, angry and as usual, spent time beating myself up. I ran into my neighbor, Randy. I asked him to be my confessor. I confessed my anger towards my grandkids and asked God to forgive me. Randy pronounced the absolution allowing me to hear I am forgiven and even more important, that I could forgive myself. I went back to the family, forgiven with peace in my heart. I was able to ask my family and especially the grandkids forgiveness.
Here is what I am continuing to learn. First, God will use very unexpected circumstances to keep me humble. This always sends me back to “square one” knowing how dependent I am on the grace and mercy of God to be able to live a crucified life. Secondly, I get less despondent when I fall short in front of my family. For that I am thankful. “Your failures,” notes Fenelon, “don’t make you displeasing to God. He sees your deepest feelings. It is a long process toward being completely dead to your selfishness.” Thirdly, I am grateful that I can share my faults with all who read this blog. I can’t tell you how liberating it feels. “God loves me in all my stink.” Amen!!!