#18 November 1, 2005
There Is Beauty in the Dying
?There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die.? (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a)
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my backyard watching the leaves just beginning to turn colors. Again marveling at the awesomeness of God manifested in creation, a word was spoken to my spirit that said, ?There is beauty in the dying.? In my mind I understood this as the beauty of the changing, falling leaves as they die and signal the approaching winter. However these words have haunted me ever since. Again yesterday, sitting at the cider mill, sipping cider and eating donuts on a date with Chuck, I noticed those leaves and signs of fall once more. It was even more beautiful this time. Out in the country where the air was just crisp enough, smelling the apples and hearing the rustling of the leaves on the ground brought these words back to me. There is beauty in the dying.
Beauty and dying?seems like an oxymoron. If you think about it, not really?Look at a seed. Jesus said that ?unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.? (John 12:24). We all know what happens when we plant seeds in our backyard. With time and care we reap a harvest of beautiful plants and flowers. Dying seed...beauty to behold!
When we receive the gift of Jesus Christ as Lord, dying is quite evident. We become new creations..the old has gone (died)?the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new is so much more beautiful than the old. Hence, the beauty in the death of our old self, making us alive to Christ, ?I no longer liv(ing) but Christ liv(ing) in me? (Galatians 2:20).
Death in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, was beautiful because it brought God great glory. The deaths of Lazarus, the widow?s son, and Jairus? daughter all provided Jesus the opportunity to raise them from the dead and bring His Father glory.
We can find immense beauty in the dying of Christians even today. In the process of dying, they are moving closer to Heaven. When they are gone from this world, they wake up to the face of Jesus, the most beautiful sight we will ever behold!
And let?s not forget the most beautiful death of all?that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says that ?Nature provides a parable of Jesus? career. Apart from death his life stands in isolation, with no power of increase. Death is the key to spiritual fruitfulness? (p. 1100). Without the beauty of the death of Jesus, we would still be lost in our sin, hopeless and helpless and destined for eternal damnation. ?Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!? (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We all think about the obvious things that need to die in our lives when we commit to Christ?pride, selfishness, anger, hatred, lust, greed. But there are also many not so obvious things that will be beautiful as they die. About a year ago I prayed for the death of all of the empty things that I hold on to. I meant that prayer with all of my being and I can tell you?be careful what you pray for! Think about all of the things in your life that hold no eternal, kingdom value. Look at what occupies your time, your thoughts, your money. Remember, ?where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.? (Luke 12:34). Let those useless, empty things die. Are you busy for God and not growing closer to God? Oswald Chambers said, ?the one thing that is in greatest competition with living for God, is service to Him.? I?m not totally there yet but the beauty I?ve seen so far encourages me to keep going.
Let the status quo die. Don?t be content with your spiritual life the way it is. Tommy Tenney?s daily devotional asked, ?Are you prepared to be ?undignified? in the eyes of the spiritual elite? Are you willing to survive on starvation rations of one scant meal per week, or will you pay the cost to passionately pursue Him and enjoy the bounty of His presence more and more? That kind of desperation and brokenness can pull God from His hiding place. No wonder He said, ?Seek My face.? God is just waiting to reveal His face to somebody who is desperate enough and bold enough to pull Him out of hiding.?
I don?t know about you but I?m tired of the status quo?tired of church as usual?tired of lukewarm Christianity. I want to be like the apostles in the book of Acts who were willing to suffer anything to spread the Gospel. And I am so hungry for the presence of God in my life and I carry a burden for my Christian friends to feel His presence, to even desire to feel His presence. He has become my magnificent obsession! Is He yours? Let every other pursuit die! Go ahead, let it all go?let all of that old junk die!
And stop beating on doors that God has already closed. Revelation, Chapter 3 says that ?what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.? If you are no longer hearing from God in a certain area of your life, if you no longer have that peace that passes understanding about what you?ve given your life to, if you are filled with confusion?maybe Jesus has closed that door and is moving you through the death of that thing to something far more meaningful and beautiful. Only you know what that thing is that you?re trying to make happen and you?re just not getting there. Ask Him to show you. Pray and listen. Be sure that you have asked forHis guidance, then think about it?perhaps the door is closed?perhaps it has died for you?perhaps you?re ready to move on to something beautiful. If God is done with it?you be done with it too.
Thomas F. Fisher said, ?When the seed falls and dies, God is simply transforming you to the degree necessary to make you be an instrument of soul transformation.? (Ministry Health, ?Unless Your Seed Falls?, Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div.,M.S.A. #351)
The leaves are changing color and falling from the trees. Soon it will be winter. The leaves of your life are changing, falling and dying as well. At least some of them should be. Would you have it any other way? Sameness is boring, change is exhilarating! Winter is just around the corner and it may be feeling like it is winter in your soul. But remember that God is faithful and spring with all of its freshness and newness always comes. There IS beauty in the dying!
Following He who bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live!