I know there must be others like me out there.
Those who have met Jesus. Those who have trusted in Jesus. Those who have tasted and seen His love is good and His forgiveness is all-encompassing. Those who love Jesus.
I know there must be others like me out there.
Those who have forgotten. Those who know in their head but can no longer feel it in their heart. Those who are afraid they are too far gone.
How does one so radically saved wind up in such a place? It doesn’t happen all at once.
Let me tell you a story.
“Did you know,” the elderly lady asked behind the pulpit, “that missionaries of long ago, used to bring their coffins with them on their mission trips because they did not anticipate making it back home?”
I had gone to this service alone and with the anticipation that accompanies a heart on fire for Jesus. Now, as I sat in my seat, completely frozen and shaken to my core, I was unable to hear a single word she said beyond that single question.
I got home that night just chewing on those words and asking myself, “Do I have the kind of faith that goes out into the trenches with a suitcase and my own coffin? Am I truly willing to die for Jesus?”
I was unable to shake this rising conviction, and so after everyone in my house fell asleep that night, I tiptoed downstairs. I turned out all of the lights, lit a candle, got down on my hands and knees, and prayed the most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed:
“Lord Jesus, make me into the kind of person who would die for You. Give me the kind of faith that packs her own coffin, that I would be willing to die for the gospel.”
I guess it never occurred to me what the answer to that prayer might look like. It never dawned on me that flesh must die in order for this to take place.
I had wanted a simple, “Let me touch the hem of Your cloak and be a warrior,” type of answer, but I had a lot to learn about the cross.
I had entered that church a young wife and mother who had dreams of the perfect family. The perfect life.
I would stay at home raising my children up in the way they should go, and eventually, we would live out our purpose as a family centered on Christ. Our love and faith for God would shape the lives of those around us. This prayer, I believed, was just one forward step in that direction.
Almost immediately after the “Amen” left my lips, the trial began. It was conceived by a single question, a seed of doubt: what if I am not truly born again?
The pastor seemed to raise this question to the congregation time and time again. I guess it was only a matter of time before it trickled its tone of suspicion into my own, insecure heart.
That seed quickly bloomed, as my ever-growing fear watered the soil around it.
Over the years, it grew and grew until this weed, with all of its thorns, choked out the delicious fruit, giving birth to a wasteland of silence and desperation.
Do you still love me, Lord? became my heart’s anthem.
Will you leave me? Have you abandoned me?
Still, I pressed on—
To where shall I go?
But the doubts, they lingered, and lie by lie, the fear robbed me of the joy of my salvation until all I had left was that dream of the perfect life I would provide for my children. Then, in a single moment, it too was taken from me. It came in the form of goodbye from the man on whom I had believed the very foundation of this life was dependent.
Lost then, in the sea of fear and silence, I allowed myself to be swept away. It happened gradually as comforts of my flesh revealed themselves in my sorrow until my heart was screaming, I am done chasing You! If you really do love me, then come find me!
And so, at the moment—the moment I was to pick up my coffin and go—I chose to run instead, peeking a glance over my shoulder every now and then just to see if He was looking.
Once you have tasted the love of Christ, you are ruined for this world. Once you have moved from death to life, the things of this world taste rotten, the stench of death where comfort was once found.
And so, soon my legs became too weary to run. The intoxicating effects wore off, and I began to look around at the pile of ashes, crying, What have I done?!?
The shame that followed was crippling. The depression so thick that a day became a war. Just breathe . . . (I can’t move) . . . Just breathe . . . (I can’t go on) . . . Just breathe . . . And so it went, as little by little I began the unraveling that brought it all out into the light.
I realize now, this is what it looks like for the flesh to die.
My broken season has been the answer to that most dangerous prayer. To die for my Savior, to die to self, I had to first be stripped of all I believed myself to be.
In order for Him to bring me fully to Himself, I must fully die to self. In order to know how much He loves me, I must become unlovely. How easy it is to believe yourself a creature worth loving when your heart is zeal and fire. To be loved in the ugliest version of your humanity is nothing short of divine.
I could tell you the story of all He has restored since then, but that is for another time. After all, these are just photographs on the wall. Jesus is the home.
These idols of marriage and motherhood, they no longer have the luxury of consuming my heart the way they did before. That dream of perfection has died a thousand different deaths and continues to still.
I am not finished dying.
I am a prodigal daughter on her journey back home, and here you will only find a sick but healing daughter of the Most High being gently led back to the feast her Father prepared for her long ago.
Though the imagery of a faith so bold as to carry my own coffin still very much appeals to my idealistic heart, I realize now that His death is the only one that matters.
He is the hero in this story.
No, I cannot say that I would carry my own coffin, but He carried His cross up that hill on that day long ago so I wouldn’t have to. I am not brave enough to summon death, but He chose to die in my place so I would never taste it.
Previously published on the author’s blog