Today in My Utmost for His Highest, I read about having a "White Funeral"--"a crisis of death"--and a "resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ."
This is something I have been pondering and writing about a lot lately. It is as though God is determined to establish a rock solid understanding of this principle within me, and in everything I read, whether scriptures or the same devotionals I have read many times before, the obvious requirement and possibility of this gift and grace is leaping off every page and line.
There is an absolute necessity of it if we are to experience Christ as both Saviour and Sanctifier, and now I believe that we should learn about it as the immediate next step after any decision to follow Christ, but I think that often we aren't taught, or don't get it if we are. It makes the step of baptism so clearly an outward demonstration of an inner reality. I think that many people could be baptised without fully comprehending all that it means. When I was baptised at 17, I thought of it as a sort of adult proclamation of my decision to follow Jesus and a demonstration of dying to my "old life" and starting a new life in Christ. It is so much more!
This week there was a situation when I was prodded out of my comfort zone in a friendship and reacted in a way that I can see now was about my own self protection and not out of a spirit of love because I focused on how I was feeling and not on what possible hurt prompted the actions of my friend. Jesus didn't care one iota about his own comfort. The only time I can think of that he asked anything for himself of others was in the Garden of Gesthemane, when he asked his three closest friends to pray with him. And they all fell asleep. Jesus went on to lay down his life out of blazing love for others. He was love exemplified as it is described in the passage Susan shared here last week. This is the same passage from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, The Message:
3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, The Message)So today, Oswald Chamber's challenge to me, fell on fertile soil and a ready heart. "Have you come to your last days really?" he said, "You have come to them often in sentiment, but have you come to them really?"..."Is there a place in your life marked as the last day..."
And I answered, "It is today."
I wrote in my grey, leather bound copy of MUFHH, on the page for January 15th, "2011, White Funeral, Belinda Burston."
A funeral sounds sombre, even a white one, but this feels more like a wedding day. It is a commitment of love to my my Lord, his family and those outside his family.
I expect testing. I even expect that I will fall flat on my face if I forget that it is God and not me whose power alone must reside and live love in me, but so be it if need be; babies fall flat on their face sometimes. Whatever it takes, I am celebrating my Last Day.