For, alive though I am, I am always given over to death for the sake of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may shine forth in my dying flesh. 2 Cor 4:11 (MontgomeryNT)
I love this time of year. I’m a cool weather guy (probably because of all the natural insulation I have). I get energized by the nip in the air and I go crazy when the leaves start changing their colors. Seriously, you can ask my kids. All the way home from South Carolina I was pointing out the windows going, “Look at that tree…look at the red one… isn’t that beautiful?” I’m like a kid on Christmas morning this time of year. I wish it could last longer than a couple of months, but I know it is only temporary.
I also know that when the leaves change colors it is a sign that they are in the process of dying. The tree is shutting down to “rest” through the winter, the chlorophyll that gives leaves their green color in Summer is drying up and the brilliant reds and yellows that “shine forth” in the Fall are the indicators that the life of the leaf is fading.
Isn’t it interesting that the leaf is most brilliant and beautiful when it is in the process of dying? I love Paul’s words in the above verse: “Although I am alive, I’m ready to die for the sake of (or the cause) of Christ Jesus, the His life my shine forth even in my dying flesh.” (my paraphrase). Paul knew he was living on borrowed time, his days were numbered. But he wasn’t about to give up and shrivel up and die, he was going to go out shining forth the life of Christ. Paul reflected the life of Christ most beautifully when he was in the process of dying for the cause of Christ.
I woke up this past Sunday morning at around 2:45 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve learned that when it does happen, God usually has something important to say to me. He knows I hear more clearly when I don’t have the distractions of the day. I went to the living room and sat in my “prayer chair” and said, “Ok Lord, what do you want me to hear?” Very clearly He said, “You’re dying.” Not the most comforting words to hear at 3 am, but there was no fear in my heart. Of course, a thousand thoughts jumped into my head: “When?… Soon?... You mean, right now?... How?” Then the Spirit began to bring to mind verses that I had read time and again… “Teach us to number our days…” (Ps 90:12), “What is your life? It is but a vapor…” (James 4:14), “Redeeming the time…”(Eph. 5:16).
God was reminding me that life in this world is temporary. Like the colorful leaves, life is but for a season. I’m in the process of dying – have been since the day I was born – and so are you. We can do one of two things with this truth: we can give up, shrivel up and wait for it to happen. Or, like the leaves that are most beautiful when they are dying, we can live for the cause of Christ so that “the life also of Jesus may shine forth in (our) dying flesh.” What will you do with the rest of your life?