the ecstacy of self-sacrifice

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? [Matthew 16:24-26 MSG]

I love this contemporary rendering of the ancient words of Jesus.
My friend Don often speaks of the battle we experience with the false self.
In these words Christ teaches us that we find our true self as we are following him.

I find the Lord's word to be so practical and realistic.
Instead of telling us to deny or reject suffering he instructs us to embrace it.
In doing so he elevates our painful experiences and helps us see them as teachers.

In truth, I struggle so much with this idea - nobody wants to embrace suffering.
Yet I think that it echoes those beautiful words of the serenity prayer.
Lord, help me to accept the things that I cannot change.

I think pain has the ability to transform us like nothing else.
In reality, self-sacrifice is all about the embracing of pain and suffering.
Our false-self wants self-help while our true self values self-sacrifice.

Like many, I have learned with age that you can lose yourself in fleshly dreams.
Like some, I have known the ecstacy of rising to the challenge of self-sacrifice.
I think that there is no higher call than the one to lay down our life for another.

In a world filled with self-centeredness and greed, self-sacrifice is counterintuitive.
Yet in the kingdom of heaven, the King demands that we love without condition.
The end of such love is losing everything only to find our true self.

Dear Lord. Help me to embrace my pain. Teach me live sacrificially.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

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