What does it mean to die to self? I’ve been chewing on that for a few days now, and I was struck by a new thought last night. When I’m in the death throes of repentance, one of the most painful aspects is dying to who I thought I was.
It’s one thing to agree with God that there are “none righteous, no not one,” and quite another to see up close exactly what that means to Him. I can (and do) surrender to the fact that I am just a sheep, a foolish thing, but that’s a function of my will. I choose to believe God, to believe what He says about Himself and about me. I don’t minimize this surrender, because it’s a daily dealing that’s no small thing. But it’s very different to see the Truth, not just receive it.
I have an idea of who I am, but that’s all it is, really – an idea. Charitably, this idea of “me” is a nice muddy mix of delusions (both idealism and self-loathing) with the occasional glimmer of truth.
For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].
1 Corinthians 13:12 AMP
I KNOW that I don’t know me (or anyone else, for that matter), but I still think I know who I am (and everyone else, too). I don’t know me, but I think that I know me. So here I am, comfortable in the general acceptance of my old, sinful self, when BAM! Here comes something specific.
The Holy Spirit always comes to me with two things: a light and a mirror. I stand there in the light and look in the mirror He’s holding up before me. Then I choose. I either say, “Yes, that’s me, through and through,” or I close my eyes, shake my head and hold tight to the illusion of who I think I am.
Each time I say yes to who God says I am, I have to die to who I thought I was. And I have to make peace with that death, genuinely accepting the Truth and letting it sink in ever deeper. “Now I know…imperfectly,” BUT “I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].” And the more I die to who I think I am – good and bad – the more clearly I see myself AS I am. And that matters a great deal, so much so that the Holy Spirit told me why it mattered years before I’d ever taken the first real step forward.
“You will see Christ according to whether you see you. In exact proportion and in exact measure, you will see Christ…AS you see you.”
Martha Kilpatrick, Seeing Him