It has been a rough year at work, a lot of death has been happening. Some from natural causes, others for reasons of poor life choices. Some young, some old. Some with support around, others alone and seemingly forgotten by the world, other than a paid caregiver. Sometimes I find myself praising God that their suffering is over. Other times, I have found myself questioning “why?”
As I was praying, a clear correlation was drawn for me between what I am experiencing at work and the spiritual process of dying to self, or crucifying the flesh. I go through much of the same process as the individuals and families do as they face the dying process.
Some people refuse to believe they are dying. This comes in many different forms from outright denial to standing in faith. I realize that sometimes I don’t want to believe that I still have some sins hanging around that I have tried to ignore, like pride masked in insecurities. Other times I am truly blind to the sin so I can’t see that it needs to die.
Sometimes family is not prepared emotionally, financially or relationally. Family wants more time to come to terms with the inevitable. I do this too. I often bargain with God for more time because I am not ready to make the changes required for my flesh to die.
Sometimes there is a financial reason for holding on, like if a family lives paycheck to paycheck and need time to figure out how to manage with the loss of income. I have certainly disobeyed God in this area. And I suffered the consequences of it. Had I been willing to let go, I could have prevented a lot of suffering and remorse on my part. I just needed to be willing to obey God and trust Him in my finances when He showed me clearly I needed to let go.
Other times people have unresolved issues with a loved one. There are things that need to be said, but emotionally one or both of the parties are not willing to start the conversation. No one is willing to say what needs to be said. So often I have allowed my flesh to cause a rift between me and God. I am not ready to start the conversation to allow healing to mend my brokenness. Instead I continue to let my flesh grow in that area.
Sometimes distance is a barrier, the dying person is waiting for someone to arrive. I realize I can not wait for someone else before allowing my sin to be crucified. Unforgiveness and baggage from the past immediately come to mind. I often want to wait for someone else to apologize or for justice to happen. I can’t wait for someone else, if I need to change, it is on me regardless of anyone else’s actions. Sin will always find someone else to latch on to through me for survival.
Sometimes a person is hanging on because they want to know those who are left behind are going to be okay. Some people are not going to be okay with the changes required in my life as I crucify the flesh. Sin will stick around much longer than needed because I don’t give God permission to take it away. The flesh in me does not want to die, but if I trust God I will be okay, even after the sin is gone.
Some are afraid that giving in to the natural process of death, is suicide. Nothing could be father from the truth. Just because science can keep someone alive doesn’t mean we should. God receives people in His time, we may prolong he process with treatments and machines, but stopping those is not suicide. When I die to flesh, I am giving in to the natural process that God has laid out. I am killing it, but it is not killing me. God takes my sacrifice and blesses it. He receives it, and makes me the best version of myself that I can be.
Or families are concerned that they are killing someone by withdrawing care. Machines and medicines can keep someone’s heart beating or provide oxygen, but they are just preventing the body from doing what it was naturally made to do. When I submit to crucifying the flesh, my spirit, united with Christ is doing what it was created to do – imitate Christ.
Every now and then a doctor will want to pursue treatments that offer little hope or recovery. Families gravitate towards these treatments, thinking that someone will have a complete turn around. And I have to say, from time to time, I have seen the miracle happen. Before I say, what I am going to say, let me clarify I don’t think that doctors are the enemy, it just is a picture that helped me make sense of things. When it comes to my flesh dying, the enemy will always try to provide just one more reason to hang on to my sin, my desires and my ways. It will offer false hope and security, where there is none to be had.
One of the things I enjoy doing, is making sure that people have a medical power of attorney, stating who can make decisions for them should they be in a position they can not, whether temporarily or permanently and an advanced directive, letting doctors know what should and should not be done in the event of an irreversible condition. These documents should be completed by everyone! They really help guide and direct the family and doctor when it comes time for those difficult decisions to be made.
When I became a Christian, I turned power of attorney over to God. The Bible became my advanced directive. The Bible clearly says to lay down your life, and to sacrifice or crucify the flesh. There is no guessing needed The flesh needs to die. Sin needs to go.
And so I pray:
God I give you permission to kill the flesh in my life, the time is now. No more waiting. Your Word is clear and I know that you want only the best for me. God open my eyes to the truth about myself. That anything that does not resemble You would be allowed to die. Take everything in me that is not like you, regardless of how others will respond. I want what you have for me and I am ready to die to self. No more excuses. Open my eyes, let me not hold on to false hopes from the enemy or be concerned about how others will respond. Your opinion is the only opinion that carries weight. You are my POA, the Bible is my advanced directive.