The Day I Died

I was twenty-six years old when I died.  It was not a physical death.  It was a spiritual death.  And it was a setup.

I had lived for twenty-six years like everyone else.  I had hopes and dreams and desires and plans, but they all came to an end on that day at age twenty-six.

As I write this I am realizing that this event has led me on a 'path less traveled' as they say.  I had been on the path that everyone travels in one way or another,   It is the path that we all have inherited - the path of leaning on our own understanding, and trying our best to achieve our dreams and desires, or maybe some else's dreams and desires.

I have written on other pages of my memoirs about my conversion experience of becoming what I have always called a 'born-again Christian' on the day that I asked Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Savior and the Lord of my life.  I have told that when my knees touched the carpet on the floor of the second story lounge of the Business Building at Bowling Green State University on May 15, 1976 at 3:30 p.m. that I shed 26 years' worth of tears, and was instantly changed.  I had peace and joy that I had never before known, and a belief that everything was going to work out okay.  I had no idea what had happened, but I knew that it was a good beginning.

My transformation had started with the first phrase of a verse of the Judeao-Christian Bible:

Psa 46:10  "Be still, and know that I am God."

Through a little research I had discovered that this meant that I should 'stop striving' - or in the current vernacular that I should 'chill' so that I could begin to know God!  Looking back I can see that there is nothing we can do to get to know God because He exists in a different dimension than we do.  But He is able to make Himself known to us, and His intention for all of creation is that all might know Him through the forgiveness of our sins:

Heb 8:10  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Heb 8:11  And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
Heb 8:12  For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."
Heb 8:13  In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

This, by the way, is the reason why the Jewish people have been persecuted throughout the centuries - because our adversary, the devil, does not want people to receive the revelation of the knowledge of God which the 'house of Israel' was supposed to declare to all the rest of creation.)

Anyway, I had come to know God when I received His Son, Jesus Christ, into my heart.  I thought that I had been born again of the Spirit of God, but suffice it to say that I had been fundamentally changed.

The next day I saw the college girl who had told me to bow my knees before God the previous day.  She was all excited, and told me that she had a verse of Scripture for me, she knew that it was for me when she heard it on Christian Radio the previous night.  So I told her to settle down and tell me the verse.  She replied, "1 Corinthians 6:9."  I replied, "Which says......"

She got out her huge black Bible, opened it up to that passage, and read:

1Co 6:19-20  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

I have also related on other pages that I realized that 'bought with a price' is a term of slavery!  I am not my own! I, like you, dear reader, are owned by God.  He owns us by virtue of creation, and He also owns us by virtue of redemption.  We are not the 'captains of our souls' or the masters of our fate.  We were created by God for His good and acceptable and perfect will.  It has not been until very recently that I have realized that this is 'the new heaven and new earth wherein dwell righteousness', where everyone one knows God from the least to the greatest!

So I was faced with the most important decision of my life.  Do I submit to slavery to God, or do I continue to try to live 'my own life' apart from Him?  He gave me the answer key at that point, and I realized that the only right answer was, "Yes, Master."  I have also related elsewhere that I had a vision of myself on the four corners of Timbuktu, North Africa, telling the locals about the One True God, and seeing myself dying there with a spear in my back as a result!  I remember thinking, "That is not at all appealing."  God did not promise me a rose garden.  He offered me the choice of living His way or my way.

I had already realized that He could not possibly do any worse at managing 'my life' that I was doing, so I said, "Lord, I am not thrilled with the possibilities, but I know that 'Yes." is the only right answer, so I am going to say 'Yes' to You.  But I have heard that You are kind and merciful, so please be kind and merciful to me."  I also realized that I was telling God that I would let Him do whatever He wanted to do in me and through me, and that I had to stop doing whatever I wanted to do when it was inconsistent with His plans and purposes.

That was when I died.

The result was that the Holy Spirit began to work in me and through me in ways that I had never imagined.  I began to experience spiritual gifts like prophesy and knowledge, and I also began to develop spiritual fruits like patience, joy, peace, kindness and the like.

But I also began to realize that I was out of synch with many other Christians.  I remember talking to a Christian college girl after church one Sunday, and she asked me if I had made a commitment to the church.  I kind of understood what she was talking about, but I told her that I had just committed everything to Jesus, and I didn't think that I had anything left to commit to the church.  I saw 'an invisible protective shield' come between us, and I realized that she did not consider my response to be at all proper.  In fact she considered my response to be very alarming!  It turned out that she 'belonged' to a church which was teaching a new and destructive doctrine, and the result of that doctrine was very traumatic and deluding to its adherents.  I, on the other hand, knew that I belonged only to Jesus, and to our Heavenly Father through Him.

I soon read in one of the apostle Paul's epistles that he 'died daily', and I understood that to mean that he also had surrendered to his ownership by God, and chose to continue that submission on a daily basis.

I also read where Jesus said that unless one denied himself, took up his or her cross daily to accompany Him, one could not be His disciple or accompany Him.

I also read in Proverbs:

Pro 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

I had learned in school about 'corollaries', and realized that the corollary to this verse is that one must stop leaning on one's own understanding if one wants to become able to trust the Lord with all of one's heart.  So I began to ask Jesus to help me to stop leaning on my own understanding, and to start trusting Him with my whole heart.

I began to notice that I never heard any of these fundamental revelations which I was receiving in the church.  Church was all about singing Christian songs, reading the Bible, listening to preaching of the Bible, and thus 'renewing one's mind' to attain a Christian world view and to live a life pleasing to God.  There was no spiritual death to be found, only leaning on one's own understanding in a different way.  Yes, it produced an improved life, but it also produced new frustrations when things didn't work out as the Bible said they would.

I, on the other hand, began to be free of my own understanding and expectations, and have enjoyed a life of daily adventure with joy and peace and growing righteousness as Jesus continues His integration of me into Himself.  You see, dear reader, we can read about being 'in Christ', and we assume that when one receives Jesus into one's heart that we are instantly 'in Christ', but I don't think that the facts bear that out.  For example, there is a passage of the Christian New Testament which says:

2Co_5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Yet I have never known a Christian who does not have some residual baggage from their past ungodly life still affecting them.  Why?  Because the more we die to self, the more we are free to live for God.

Every Christian knows that Jesus died to pay for their sins, but hardly any Christian knows:

(GNB)  He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for Him Who died and was raised to life for their sake.

Jesus died to give us His ability to die to self, and He rose again to give us His ability to life for His Heavenly Father, but our free will dictates that we must appropriate His death and life by faith in order for us to be free from ourselves to live for God.  In short, we are as dead as we want to be to self, and we are as alive to God as we want to be in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have you died, dear reader, to self by the power of Jesus' cross and death, so that you too may live with Jesus for God?

The apostle Paul did!  He described his life as follows:

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf.

I do not claim to have attained that level of sanctification or perfection, but I do follow Paul's further explanation:

Php 3:10-12  I want to know the Messiah—what his resurrection power is like and what it means to share in his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, though I hope to experience the resurrection from the dead. It's not that I have already reached this goal or have already become perfect. But I keep pursuing it, hoping somehow to embrace it just as I have been embraced by the Messiah Jesus.

So, dear reader, if you have not begun to enter into the death of Jesus through unconditional surrender to Him and to God's will for your life and to trusting God with your heart rather than leaning on your own understanding, I urge you to do so immediately so that you too can go all the way with Jesus!

One of my favorite songs is "Beautiful River" by Dave Noel (check it out on Youtube).  The last line in that song expresses what I have found through unconditional surrender and death in Christ - "I plunge my life into the deep, and from Your depths I live in awe."

WARNING!!!!!!!!  Most Christians have never really died - they merely get all that they think they need from Jesus, and go on with life.  They may think that they have died, and they may be told that they have died, but there is no substitute for Unconditional Surrender to God and His plan for your life. 

We don't realize that failure to surrender unconditionally means that we are actually continuing our rebellious life apart from God and His perfect plan for our lives because the church does not inform us of this fact.  There is a verse in the Bible which accurately describes God's view of our lives:

(MKJV)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah [God the Father] has laid on Him [God's Son Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.

I believe that most people go astray from God and never realize that they are apart from God until some crisis occurs, and we come running to God for help.  I also believe that He helps us in temporary ways from time to time, but eternal salvation is only found in washing away one's sins with the Blood of Jesus, The Lamb of God, and by entering into unconditional surrender to God and His plan for your life.

There is an interesting statement made by Oswald Chambers in his daily devotional book entitled My Utmost For His Highest.  He writes, "If you are still the same miserable crosspatch that you have always been, then it is a fraud to say that you are saved and sanctified in Christ."   hmmm


'So what?', you may ask.

As a result of dying to self through unconditional surrender to live for God according to HIs plans rather than mine, I find that I am growing in the ability to perceive things from God's perspective, not man's perspective.  I am becoming keenly aware of the dreadful presence of pride, selfishness and ungodly control which permeates the world, and God's desire to rid His creation of these plagues.  I have come to believe that only death and resurrection for all of creation will enable us to be who we are created to be - abiding in Christ as branches abide in a vine, bringing forth fruit as the vine's lifeblood flows through the branches and the sunlight gives power of life to the entire vine.

These are truths which have been almost universally ignored by the body of Christ because of God's interesting way of building His kingdom.  He lets us go astray from Him after our own way long enough to bring us to a degree of hopelessness and repentance and turning to Him for mercy and grace.  But the repentance is usually not deep, so we have to go through cycles of straying, suffering, hopelessness and repentance in order to dig through our many layers of self-reliance until we ultimately get to reliance on God alone through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The great example which the church uses as the  best of human godliness (apart from Jesus)  is King David.  He was called 'the man after God's own heart' nearly all of his life, until he met Bathsheba.  Then the secrets of his heart were revealed, and he discovered true and complete brokenness and contrition.  Then, in his brokenness and contrition which led him to unconditional surrender to God and His righteousness, he was able to write Psalm 51.  When he had been set free from his pride of heart he was able to perceive that one of God's messengers to him was a guy who ran along a mountain ridge, threw rocks at David and cursed him!  He perceived that that man has sent to keep him humble!  He would never have perceived that truth before his broken and contrite unconditional surrender to God!

By the way, "brokenness" is a condition which means "I just cannot do what I should do", and "contrition" means that "it is my fault and no one else's fault".  We are not created to be God's 'independent contractors', we are meant to become His sons and daughters by abiding in Jesus, and getting Jesus to life His perfect life in us and through us.

More later, Lord willing.