Dying is one thing and staying dead another. Here I share with you my struggles with death, particularly the incessant tussle between the will to stay dead and the temptation to live again. Death is a scary thing for the timid and uncertain, but for the courageous and discerning, it is only a phase; a dark tunnel that leads to brilliant light. Living, as it was, had always seemed profitable yet it guaranteed nothing in the end but a fatal death accompanied by anguish, while the death I speak of is in its entirety a rite of passage to fullness of life. Amusing oxymoron? I know. For how can you die and yet live? But, I died.
It was the burial before the new birth and that quiet evening I walked towards my own death. It was not a trap, it was very intentional and I remember the peace that came with that sacrifice. It was a moment of bliss though short-lived. Eyes opened. Burdens lifted. Hopes restored. But as days turned into months and months into years, the life I thought was snuffed out regained consciousness and I was beginning to live again. Only this time, that funeral is my cover.
I remember the seasons before then when my senses were awakened by every whiff of pleasure. When life was seamless and there were practically no inhibitions. I recall those breezy nights of wicked fun and those days when like a chameleon my life took on the ever changing appearance of everyone and every habit in close proximity. Those times my whispers were as loud as clashing cymbals and without saying a word I called all attention. I was once alive, very much alive.
But why am I living that life again even though I died?
Wait. That ain’t normal. Perhaps I never died.
Death is too final. Maybe I only slipped into comma. Maybe I placed myself on some sort of life-support. I cannot be dead and yet live like that. Maybe I’m not really dead. Or, maybe I have to work at staying dead.
Salvation is a call to death in exchange for the life of Christ. Perhaps you were also at your funeral. Sober and remorseful, you acknowledged your wrongs and pleaded penitence as you sacrificed the old you for the new one without blemish. Trusting by faith, you forsook your wicked old convenient ways for a life holy, righteous and worthy of His commendation. But, are you still dead?
For mortals like us in a generation like ours, staying dead is hard work. It’s an effort to keep the old you in check as you make room for the new you to thrive amidst choking distractions. It doesn’t just happen. It’s like the diligent and continuous weeding of a farmland to make room for the real crops to access sufficient nutrients and grow to maturity. It is the conscious effort to strive in becoming more like Christ at expense of acceptance and applause. It is very deliberate but sometimes we are too casual to care. Or perhaps we just want to have our cake and eat it too. So we romance the idea of retaining salvation while we flirt with appearances of worldliness. We refine and modify sin such that lie becomes diplomacy and grace becomes an excuse to wither in compromise. We invent our own life-support machines and determine the habits we’ll carry over and those worth forfeiting. But a truly dead man takes nothing to his grave. Why? He is dead!
Dispossessed. Naked. Quiet. Unresponsive. Very dead.
Staying dead is a personal responsibility. I must be very conscious about and cautious with this light in me lest it be snuffed out and become a great darkness. I must take stock of my Christian journey and ask valid questions every step of the way. Am I still dead? Am I truly living the new life? Am I thriving? Am I growing in intimacy with Him? Am I becoming more and more like Him?
I just want to be a living corpse- very dead yet very alive. So, daily, I must strive by help of the Holy Spirit towards Christ-likeness. I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling as I weed out relationships and reorder my priorities. I must accept that whatever is not helping me grow is simply not worth cleaving to. I must be sincere with my claims, confront myself daily and never use civilization to justify or excuse a return to my vomit. I must become more and more transparent for Jesus to shine through whilst ensuring that those who follow me follow right and those who copy me copy right. I must be committed to losing my life daily to gain it.
For all it’s worth, I died.