As I listened to Francis Chan speak at the Hollywood Bowl on Easter Sunday, he talked about turning our backs to our lives. Leaving behind our past, our baggage, our sin, and even our comforts to follow Jesus.
We talk about this often in “Christian world”, to the point where it sounds simple and easy. We have even become very used to the term “dying to ourselves”. But think about it-death is not a lighthearted word. I don’t know about you, but when I think of “dying to myself”, to my ways, to my choices, it sounds scary. It even sounds painful.
One of CS Lewis’ books, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, is about a boy who became a dragon. In order to become a boy again, he had to encounter a lot of pain as the dragon skin was torn and peeled away. He had to first go through excruciating pain to be transformed.
Sure-sin hurts us sometimes. But have we become comfortable in our sin? Are we becoming accustom to our dragon skin? Our sin ripping away from us can hurt SO badly. Dying to our “old selves” is not painless. Change is difficult and extremely painful sometimes.
We were made to be Christ like. What did Christ encounter? Pain. Suffering. Hurt. The cross.
We don’t have a God who wants to hurt us, but becoming more like Christ isn’t always an easy and pain free road.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me to “die to my ways” and fully live for God. I grew very content with the life I created for myself, sin and all. In fact, one of my biggest hesitations in giving up the control is because I knew how hard it would be. I knew it would hurt. Having to acknowledge that the way I had been doing things wasn’t “pretty” was hard to do.
I was comfortable with my faults, my sin, even though I was fully aware that it could ruin my life.
Turning my back to me and following Jesus was the best decision I ever made, but I also never had anyone explain to me that it wouldn’t be easy.
If you are reading this and going through something similar, know that you’re not alone. Know that even Christians struggle. Even God-seekers hesitate. And even those who are striving to be Christ-like feel the pain and suffering as they try to navigate change, growth, and feeling as though they are losing themselves in the process.
One of the things I love most about Jesus is the fact that he made it possible for me to be “new.” He allows you and I to be a new creation. We are given another chance, and an opportunity to be fully developed people regardless of the families or circumstances that raised us.
In Chan’s book, Forgotten God, he talks about how confused a caterpillar must be when it takes a long nap and suddenly wakes up a butterfly. It has died to itself. It has been made new. Regardless of how confusing or even uncomfortable the process may be, it comes out far more beautiful than before.
“I don’t want to keep crawling when I have ability to fly.”
Yes-doing life “our way” is comfortable. Even our sin can be easy. But do we want to live a life full of crawling, or do we want to take advantage of the amazing gift Jesus gave us?
We have to go through the pain and discomfort in order to change and grow. But in the end, we come out beautifully made.
Stop crawling today. Shed your dragon skin, no matter how much it hurts, and start flying.