|Tree in my backyard, acting like a burning bush|
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
- Jesus, in Luke 9:23
Notice the word "daily."
So... self-deny every day. Why? Because the self is a usurper, wanting to climb off the cross and onto the throne. This has happened to me a number of times. Here's an example. I'm going to change the details, because it involves someone else (even though it happened many years ago).
A long, long time ago, in a faraway place, a friend named X contacted me. X said: "I want you to come to ______ and speak at our conference." This was (in my little world) a big event. It was an honor to be the main speaker.
I felt excited, and was looking forward to it. Imagine then my surprise when, one day, I saw the coming conference advertised and I was not the speaker!
That's not good, on X's part. X made a promise to me, and did not keep it. Yet I understood that if X felt they needed to change this and disinvite me, I might feel disappointed but would need to understand that it's not my conference anyway. God can lead X to change his mind. It just all felt weird.
So I felt weird. And angry. And disappointed. The anger was OK; in it I did not sin. But the disappointment was about something that's not good inside me. Something in me wanted to be the speaker and have the spotlight shine on me. At that point the focus was not on God, but on me. Spiritually, this is alway a bad thing.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that the true Christian's nostrils must be constantly attuned to the inner cesspool. (Lewis, in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer) De-throne the self every day. Get smaller. Decrease, so that Jesus might increase. Go nameless and be glad. Labor in relative anonymity.
I decided to write this today because I had a self-moment this morning. The not-fully-morphed ego still wants to declare itself worthy of worship and praise. Thankfully, the Spirit recognized the invasion and came to my rescue, retaining my freedom. This feels like a step in the right direction, a growth moment, and a victory.
Demagnify the self so that Christ might be made larger.