"I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances." (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
He was forming the new clay to His image, and the pressure of that process was more than I wanted.
Round and round I spun, lopsided, messy.
Slowly, the scales begin to fall from my eyes. The rejection, the pain, the despair I had been feeling for months were fully justified in the flesh. But, I was called to abide IN HIM, not in my flesh. The raw truth of this meant one thing: I had to deny myself. Deny myself the right to be hurt, deny myself the right to be right...deny myself, me.
"...He said to them, 'If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it'." (Mark 8:34-36)
The Potter's sharp tool raised to the clay.
The clay yielded.
Death to self is a process. In many ways I thought I had already died to self. I had given up my career to raise a family. I had done repetitive menial tasks for years on end with no pay. I considered myself selfless. Others considered me selfless. Yet I stood face-to-face with the reality that I was only a white-washed tomb...looking good from the outside but defiled on the inside.
With patient hands, the expert Potter slid the sharp edge of His tool into the clay. Useless bits of clay fell to the floor.
Why do we mourn those scraps?
"The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him." (John 12:25-26)
It's far too easy to say I want to follow. But the first condition is to DENY MYSELF...to lose my own self. That is loaded with a million sacrifices.
Pride is annihilated.
- To destroy completely.
- To reduce to nonexistence.
- To defeat decisively; vanquish.
- To nullify or render void; abolish.
All along, I desire the precious fruit of the Spirit to burst forth from my branches... The love I long to give, the joy I yearn to posses, the gentleness, self-control, peace...all of it. Yet my branch dries in infertility, yielding not even a promising blossom. And I crumple at His feet and ask, "WHY?" The answer echoes back from the pages of His eternal Word: deny yourself.
For fruit is born only at the high cost of denying self. Self blocks the flow, cuts off life, shrivels blossoms long before fruit can unfold. Self has to be cut completely out. Dethroned so that the rightful King can inhabit.
Round and round the clay turns, blade inserted...all in the hands of a loving, all-knowing Potter.