In one of my favorite books, Passion and Purity, written by Elisabeth Elliot, there is a chapter titled ‘Little Deaths.’ Elisabeth writes about her longing for Jim Elliot as she waited for the Lord’s will in bringing them together, not knowing if it would ever really happen. She was sure of Jim, but she also knew that the Lord’s timing was best, and in those days of waiting, His best wasn’t Jim. Although she accepted the fact that she had to wait on Him, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Waiting didn’t mean just going to sleep and being woken up when God finally made it happen. Waiting meant life still had to go on, and the pursuit of Christ wasn’t to be stopped.
Action was required in the waiting. Though she longed to be with this man who He put in her life, she knew that she couldn’t lose focus. She knew that she shouldn’t forget her first love. Every time she thought of Jim, which was a lot, but knew that it just wasn’t the Lord’s time, she died a ‘little death.’ She died to her own desires, and she offered them to the Lord. I can imagine that she was having to die several little deaths daily. Seems exhausting. No one wants to die over and over and over again.
Elisabeth came to the realization that these little deaths didn’t mean that she would remain dead. No, she knew that dying these little deaths would bring life. She had to die to herself in order to live through the waiting.
A few chapters later, Elisabeth writes, “If the yearnings went away, what would we have to offer up to the Lord? Aren’t they given to us to offer?…How would we learn to submit to the authority of Christ if we had nothing to submit?”
The little deaths we must die show our true faithfulness to this Savior we call our Lord. In the little deaths, we submit to His will. Ah, the lesson of submission is a tough one, but a necessary one. We should thank Him for the unfulfilled desires and the long periods of waiting. Because in these times, with these little deaths, we say, “Yes, Lord” and leave it at that. Our faith is actually played out. And that couldn’t be more pleasing to Him! We trust Him when we die little deaths. We trust Him in the waiting, knowing for certain His best for now is…waiting.
I have to remind myself probably eight million times a day that I’m not here as a follower of Christ to get what I want, when I want. I’m here on a mission. So, just like Elisabeth, I must keep dying those little deaths, and be assured that I will know Him more in the waiting. It took the death of Jesus, the agonizing, undeserving, death of my Savior on the cross of Calvary, to give me life everlasting. Yeah, these deaths here, they’re just little deaths.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me…” | Luke 9:23