Remember the scene from the Pixar movie, A Bug’s Life, where the little ants are doing a play for the ‘warrior bugs’ and they end with the words, “Die, Die, Die” to everyone’s horror. Well I heard those words in my head as I wrote this blog. To my flesh, I say, “Die, Die, Die.”
One of the most painful things about following Jesus is dying to your own desires. As long as you choose what God wants above what you want, your flesh will cry out. You will be at war with yourself. You have to get used to the idea of disappointing your “nature”. It’s not easy to deliberately put down what you naturally long for in exchange for something that seems unnatural and unappealing at first. I never get used to this struggle. Once I seem to conquer one desire, another crops up. This is not easy.
Oswald Chambers talks about this struggle in his famous devotional My Utmost for His Highest. “Where our individual desire dies and sanctified surrender lives” is the title of this devotion.
“One of the greatest hinderances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament. We make our temperament and our natural desires a barrier in coming to Jesus… There is actually only one thing which you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself… The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh.”
I find my own desires lead me to a dry, empty well inside of me. It is a well of deep, unfulfilled longings. When I deny myself, unnatural as that seems, and take up the Cross of Christ, choose things that please Jesus instead of myself, I find my well filling up with fresh water, fresh ideas, fresh perspective, fresh creativity. I will have to learn and relearn this lesson a million times in my lifetime. My flesh has more than 9 lives. It keeps rising from the dead and trying to make demands again. “Oh who will deliver me from this body of death?” lamented the Apostle Paul. And I can relate to that.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Galatians 5:16-17