Losing Our Lives

“As long as we cling to life as we understand it, we cling to a pinched and deadly image of things, an image heavily conditioned by our egos, our social programming, our limited knowledge of the options. But when we are willing to let go of life as we want it to be and allow the larger reality to live in and through us instead, then in our dying we come alive.” Parker Palmer, The Active Life, p. 156.

 In our consumer understanding, loss of any kind is to be avoided. So we work hard at creating and protecting our cherished expectations of how we think life should look like. We spend our lives managing life as best we can and live fearfully about the things we can’t. Our greatest fear is that in a moment of distraction or weakness our deeply-held dreams might somehow slip through our fingers.  And so we cling and hold on tight hoping life will stay put for a while.

Have you ever said to God….”Don’t rock the boat.  I’ve got things just how I want them!”  I have. Someone has said, however, sin is that desperate act to construct life according to a cherished image of our own making.  The problem is the false assumption that things are better when we’re in control. Thus, we like it when we invite Jesus into our lives. Yet when, in reality, Jesus invites us into his, we get nervous.

Yet in spite of all our carefulness and hard work, either voluntarily or involuntarily, a day will come when we realize control is an illusion and all we really have is Jesus. A day will come when we have to abandon all hope that we can hang on to any other dream, any other relationship, any other vocation other than Jesus.

Not once but six times in the gospel narratives, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24; Matt. 10:39; Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 17:33; John 12:25).  Have we missed the essence of Jesus’ words that Christianity is fundamentally an experience in losing the lives of our dreams in order to receive the life Jesus died to give us? The Biblical call to repent and be converted is the lifelong journey of turning away from our plans, as cherished as they are, and turning towards God’s on-going creative, maddening, life-giving work in our lives.

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