Blake Henry – Student Life Group Pastor, Mesa Campus
If you don’t mind, I am going to bleed on this page for a little bit as I tell you of some revealing that has been happening in my life.
I must admit I’m afraid of death. No, not actual physical death. Which does sound strange in itself. But there is another death that I have become aware of that I struggle with daily. It is the death of my ego. I’ve found that it is very hard to kill my ego. And to be honest, I don’t know if I want it to die. I have found my identity here for so long. If it dies, where will my identity come from? Don’t get me wrong, I know all the “right Christian answers.” My identity is supposed to come from Christ and Him alone. And for the longest time, I thought I was actually getting my identity from him. Turns out in certain areas I’ve been wrong.
The more time I spend in contemplative prayer with Jesus, the more he shows me that my identity has been in being the best, most liked, smartest (which is hysterical because my wife is a whole lot smarter than me, so I’m not even the smartest person in my own house), and being the outspoken rebel with a cause. It actually even gets worse. As I spend more time with Jesus and have open and honest conversations with people in my life whom I trust, I have been shown that I am quite the prideful, entitled, jealous, and critical person. Sounds pretty unhealthy, huh? And just think–I’m a pastor.
As I was having one of those talks with someone who I trust very much (my wife), I was just ranting about how much I don’t want to have these unhealthy thoughts or be all the things I listed above. My rant ended with me saying, “Do you know how hard I’ve tried to not be like this?!” And then she said to me “Blake you don’t have to change those things about you. Jesus will if you let him.”
This hit me right in the gut.
But once again, I knew this. I know that it is nothing that I do, but by the power of His Spirit that I will be transformed and changed. Yet my wife continued. She said “Blake you are someone who thinks about God, talks about God and you read a lot about God, but have you been spending time with God?” She went on to answer her own question. “You haven’t been, because I am the closest person in the world to you and if you had been spending time with Him I would have seen change in you.” If the first thing she said hit in me in the gut this hit me in the places you aren’t supposed to talk about at church. I was stunned. Here I am, someone who can talk really well about God and answer some questions people have, but I hadn’t let Jesus close enough to let him actually deal with the garbage in my own life.
So here I am, learning to lean into death, which shouldn’t surprise me at all. Like I said, I know that scripture says if we want to truly live, we must die. I know how we are supposed to carry our cross (which was a roman torturing device, think modern day electric chair) daily. These weren’t just clichés that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were talking about. It’s the real thing, actually dying to ourselves every day, killing our ego. This looks like putting others first, not stepping on others. It looks like lifting others up, not trying to promote ourselves. Which is funny because the more I think about Jesus and the way He is promoted, it is by stepping down from heaven. He was born into an oppressed people group.
He took the lowest place possible. He washed peoples’ feet and died a brutal death on a cross. That is how he was promoted. That is how Jesus got to His throne– not by worrying about himself, but by constantly putting others first and trusting His Father with the rest.
I know I have a long way to go, but I pray that as I enter into the mystery of spending time with Christ himself that I will die and what rises will look more and more like Him every day.Click here for the photo credit on this post