The True Way to Grow
This week I mark a day that I remember with a strange mixture of pain and determined joy. This week marks three years since my father passed away. It’s a painful time because I miss him, still thinking every time I hear a particularly interesting factoid (especially about cars or planes), “I should tell Dad!” as I begin reaching for my phone – the phone in which his cell number still resides. I can’t seem to bring myself to delete it. And yet, my dad was in pain and was ready to go home to his Savior and let go of the shroud of flesh that was more a prison to him in those latter days. So, I am determinedly joyful for my dad’s freedom.
It was with grief and a sense of awe that I watched my dad transition to heaven. It was not unlike watching the labor and delivery of a child. From my perspective, I was watching death; but from Dad’s perspective, I was watching as he was birthed into heaven. It was as though the earth had held him bound long enough; he could no longer grow here. If he wanted more life, he had to step beyond the shadow of this temporal life into the brilliant light of eternity.
As I’ve written many times, it seems my dad’s passing has produced in me a newfound determination to allow the Lord to make the most of the time I have here on earth. For years I had waited for my life to start when I was older, or when the kids were a certain age, or when I was more educated, more confident, more comfortable… On and on went the list of things I was waiting for in order to do what I knew I’d been called to do. Dad’s passing was my “no more waiting” moment.
My first steps out of my comfort zone felt like a glorious breaking free, an escape from the cage, an exhilarating burst from stagnation into flight. But it didn’t stay in that heart-racing place. It was fraught with new pains I hadn’t expected. New opportunities to be rejected, ignored, places to be vulnerable and crushed.
This is one thing I’ve learned: Resurrection follows death and growth comes when I’m willing to lay my life down.
As I saw my father’s passing as death where he anticipated life better than he’d ever known, so when I am on the road to the life God has for me, I will experience the life I knew coming to an end. I will cease to crave comfort more than maturity. I will cease to value the continuity of my life and trade it in for a life hidden in Christ, stepping over the shroud of my fleshly comforts. This is the taking up of the cross Jesus spoke of in Luke 9:23. It’s a death to self-will. It is laying down the “right” to control one’s life.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20