"Dying to Self by Monique Zackery
Dying to self…
“ For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
According to Wikipedia, A coping skill is a behavioral tool, which may be used by individuals to offset or overcome adversity, disadvantage, or disability without correcting or eliminating the underlying condition.
Each of us develops coping mechanisms throughout our lives. These can come in the form of addiction, codependency or less obvious traits like striving to be the life of the party or the class clown or even becoming the famous pessimist in a group of friends. Whatever form our coping mechanisms take, they are all tools subconsciously put in place in order to mask true feelings of hurt and insecurity. Ultimately coping mechanisms take residency in our lives often deceitfully assuming the position of our identity. The majority of people adopt the belief that their coping skills are working just fine.
However, there comes a time when we must face reality. Usually this is a season in which everything in our world seems to come crashing down, and when every truth we’ve ever known is brought into the courtroom of our mind for intense interrogation and questioning. This trial frequently includes calling to the bench who we think we are and who we think God is. When this happens, our coping mechanisms tend to become faulty, forcefully causing us to remove the mask we’ve so diligently strived to keep perfectly in place as a shield to our broken, fragile hearts that have long awaited a true remedy. I like to call this the “coming to the end of myself” season. As drab as that may sound, it is also the season, if we choose, of coming to the beginning of the knowledge of God, the true God.
During this stormy and generally confusing time, I believe we are called to a pursuit of the truth. This is achieved through self examination, identifying the things we have falsely made our reality and following that by adopting our actually reality, in Christ. Essentially, what I’m saying is that we must come out of agreement with the lies of the enemy and the lies we’ve conjured up through the years and come into agreement with the truth of God’s Word, acknowledging that He is who He says He is and we are who He says we are.
The biggest hurdle in coming out of agreement with the falsehoods we’ve believed to be true is the act of consciously going against every natural way in which our brains have been hardwired, by our past experiences, to think. For example, if a father tells his five year old daughter he’s going to the store but never returns, she may likely develop the belief that all men leave. Through the years her brain becomes hardwired to believe that lie and every relationship ending in break up only further embeds that into her brain resulting in the hardening of her heart. Now as an adult, every time her boyfriend runs to the store she practically has a mental breakdown but may try to cover her insecurities with a nonchalant attitude in an attempt to disguise her tendency to be “clingy” due to fear of loss.
In order to find freedom from this debilitating fear she must come out of agreement with the lie that all men are like her father, while coming into agreement with the truth that she can find rest in the fact that Jesus will never leaver her nor forsake her AND He is all she’ll ever need (Hebrews 13:5). This is why scripture tells us we must be renewed in our mind by the washing of the Word.
STAY WITH ME, IT GETS BETTER…
When we face the hard reality that our former coping mechanisms are no longer functional, there is only one place to find the true hope that our desperate souls have so longed for and it’s in the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the gospel? Anyone who has general Biblical knowledge would tell us it’s the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But the real question is how does that even apply to our lives today? It applies because Christ didn’t just defeat death so that you and I might have an opportunity to experience heaven on the other side of eternity. He defeated death so that you and I might experience his goodness right here in this lifetime, in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). He defeated death so that you might experience His peace that passes human comprehension right in the middle of your trial (Philippians 4:7). He defeated death so that you could experience His perfect love, which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Most importantly, he defeated death so that you could be set free! And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36)!
All of us have been bound by sin and shame, guilt, addiction and the cunning deceit of the enemy whose native tongue is to lie. But Christ came so that when we finally come to the end of ourselves and realize all our oh-so-familiar coping mechanisms are no longer enough and furthermore, understand they were NEVER enough, we can finally lay hold of the truth that HE is more than enough and He is all we ever needed. Now THAT is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
To further drive this point home, I recently read in the Gospel Transformation Curriculum that, “to connect this story of good news to our lives is going to take death, a dying to ourselves. The Ephesians warfare imagery, and usually in a war there is one thing you try not to do-DIE! But this is a war where you and I are called to die, and in many different ways. We will have to die every day to our own reputation-building; to the stories we make up, the works of fiction we create [coping mechanisms!!]. To center on God and the gospel, requires a painful death of all our unbelieving desires, fears, and dreams. “- Gospel Transformation
Ultimately, I believe God allows us to experience the “coming to the end of myself” season so that we can die to ourselves, our flesh, our faulty, and at best unreliable, personal strengths in order to have a true face to face with the only wise, all powerful, mighty God. It is only in that moment that we encounter the bright and hopeful door to salvation. Furthermore, if a believer encounters this season yet again, it is what I believe to be the process of sanctification. There is a always a need for continual repentance of the new falsehoods we adopt along the way. Let us stop masquerading false identities and lay hold of Gods truth!
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” John 8:32
“…I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23