The Only Way to Win

The last installment in the Finding Our Freedoms series arrives this Sunday. It has been an interesting walk for me pastorally and personally – as it oft happens when the implications of certain truths appear both pastoral and personal. It is my calling to bear witness of the Spirit that sets us free, free indeed. But once in a while that same Spirit will rise up to say “Hold on a minute, Glen; I need to bear you a bit of witness before you do.” And then He does; and did.

Jesus had a lot to say about how losing precedes finding. As one who spends a lot of time looking for things, I get that. Luke even devoted an entire chapter to tell stories of lost sheep, lost coins and a lost son whose annoying, careless, and willful misplacement were no match for a God who won’t give up. “I once was lost but now I’m found” forms the most heartfelt confession of faith. But then there is the kind of losing that’s much more emptying out than wandering off. The surrender of self begs us to give in to God and let go of all the things that compete for the space where God desires residence. That’s a different kind of losing altogether. Bible words like deny, cast off, crucify, put off, put away, and rid have little natural attraction these days. The witness of scripture and experience suggest they never did. But if we could get our arms around what that kind of emptying makes room for, it just might. I know that if we ever fully realized how the things we hold tightly have hold of us, it would.

Thomas a Kempis put it like this; “The more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live in God.”  The freedom to live life abundantly begins when we can lay down whatever gets in the way of the gospel, blocks its path, its view, its space. Sometimes those things are behaviors and attitudes that call in the wages of our sin. More often it is the misguided notion that we can do just fine depending on ourselves. But give that one long enough and eventually we will be powerlessly trapped, infected, and enslaved. Only then will we know just how much we need to be rescued, healed and, yes, found and freed.  Maybe a little losing wont hurt that much. In fact, it may be the only way to win.