I’ve been studying the spiritual disciplines with a fellow sojourner and friend and we have been using Willard’s Renovation of the Heart. Aside from being incredibly weighty and thought-provoking, it also has really pushed in on my heart in some amazing ways. Recently it has been with my understanding of Luke 9:23-24, Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.
Now I’ve always wrestled with this idea of picking up an instrument of death as a means to truly follow Christ. And if I’m being really honest, at times, I’ve simply thought, said or even lived, “Well, I like the heaven part and having Jesus as Savior, but I’m not all in on this dying to self thing” and proceeded to live my life. That mindset has been unraveling, but now at a more rapid pace.
“Represent to your imagination that your bed is your grave; that all things are ready for you interment; that you are to have no more to do with this world; and that it will be owing to God’s great mercy if you ever see the light of the sun again or have another day to add to your works of piety. Then commit yourself to sleep as one that is to have no more opportunities of doing good, but is to awake among spirits that are separate from the body and waiting for the judgment of the last great day.
Such a solemn resignation of yourself into the hand of God every evening, and parting with all the world as if you were never to see it anymore – and all this in the silence and darkness of the night – is a practice that will soon have excellent effects upon your spirit. For this time of the night is exceeding proper for such prayers and meditations. The likeness which sleep and darkness have to death will contribute very much to make your thoughts about it the more deep and affecting. So that I hope you will not let a time so proper for such prayers be ever passed over without them.”
– From A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law
I had to read that a few times. I’ve even read it again the last few days. Mainly because I like thinking that lying in my bed is an enjoyable experience and one that will bring me rest – and something that I will wake up in. Not too fond of thinking of my bed as a grave or coffin. But to steal some phrases like… living each day as if it were my last or live like I’m dying have greater clarity. I’m not there yet… but I’d like to move, by God’s grace, to such a place that has “excellent effects upon my spirit” because I understand and live more fully what Jesus taught in Luke 9:23-24. Then I can only help but wonder what it would look like to have a world of Christ-followers living the same way.