by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
“Whoever would save his life will lost it and whoever loses his life will find it” – Jesus, Matthew 16:25
The Apostle Paul repeats an anthem of the early church…
Though his state was that of God, yet he did not claim equality with God something he should cling to. Rather, he emptied himself, and assuming the state of a slave, he was born in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5ff)
I am reading Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. She states that all great religions/faiths have as their goal “death to self.” True I suppose. But let us not confuse “interior death” with a more holistic view. I deeply embrace meditation and contemplation. I lead retreats, guide people into silence, listening prayer, and centering prayer. All of this rich spirituality is meant to “plug in” our heart and world to god. It is not meant to simply a self—ish (self focused, self centered) spirituality, where god is just there to help us idolize our Self. No. Taking Jesus’ prime example of death to self, it is truly “Not my will, O Lord, but thine!” – and then he goes to the cross – not a symbolic cross, a real cross. The soldiers gamble away what little possessions he has. He falls into the hands of god The Father Almighty. Ladies and Gentlemen: that is death to self. This death, this high price, this cost is full death. Death to self involves our parenting, our money, our language, our interior emptying, our “every thought captive to god,” our driving, our church, our worship, our generosity, our silence, our retreats, our busyness, our competition.
Let us never cheapen how expansive (wide) this death should be. Nor should we ever cheapen or limit just how deep (interior) this death must be.
Flee! Flee! Flee! Flee your life! Flee your busyness, your anger. Go into quiet and silence and aloneness. Yes, find your sacred word and intentionally revoke every thought. But also revoke every dollar and every minute. Then take up your cross and make your way down your path, your “via dolorosa,” your way to glory through tears.