When Dying to Self Leads to Life

I thought about his words the rest of the day after I read them. Truthfully, I’ve hardly stopped thinking about them since.
“I don’t think it’s possible to live a comfortable, modern American lifestyle and uphold the ideals that Jesus sets forth in the gospels. That’s a big reason that I think virtually no Christians in the US follow their own beliefs. It’s clear that comfort and normalcy is more important to them than the sacrifice that is exemplified in their holy book. I just find it annoying that Christians love to talk about how great Jesus and his teachings are, all while choosing not to follow the difficult parts.”

I heard him pleading, Don’t just tell me about your God with your words. Tell and show me about your God with your actions.

His imploring words came during part of a facebook exchange between a group of strangers that turned out to be quite transformative. Before it was even over, I sensed this encounter had been a divine appointment, perhaps for more reasons than I could begin to imagine. There seemed to be varying reactions to radically different opinions among it’s participants, but I don’t doubt that we each walked away from the conversation changed in some way. How it changed me, even as it progressed, would not be easy to sum up because the ramifications felt so deep and far-reaching. All I could do was thank this man for his honesty and for all the ways his words had hit me hard. 
As I have continued to consider this man’s words since, they seem a clear reflection of the words Jesus himself used to explain where life itself is found.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  
Matthew 16:24-25
There is no one-size fits all approach to living life so that the glory of God might be displayed through us. We are not all called to overseas missions. We are not all called to just the same place, at the same time to serve the suffering, the lost, and the lonely. We are not all called to care for orphans and widows in exactly the same manner. But what if one way God has ordained that more in the watching world would come to know Him, is through the ways we respond to the very needs of those in need?

I believe as God has designed it, (Proverbs 27:17), we can learn so much looking at the example of others when they choose to sacrifice life as they know it, so that others would be cared for and discipled. A beautiful bonus is that in so doing, a living testimony of the sacrifice of comfort and normalcy will be noticed by onlookers as we follow the difficult parts of the Gospel, just as one searching man boldly acknowledged through facebook that he was waiting to see. 

One way God has ordained that we might care for the needs of His children is through adoption. This is the calling the Lord has planned in the life of one special couple I know. Since before they were married, Ben and Maggie have sensed God calling them to adopt. They believe they have been adopted into God’s family through Jesus Christ, and their spiritual adoption is what motivates them to choose adoption as the primary way to build their family. Maggie and Ben’s adoption journey has not been easy thus far, but God is using the trials to produce a glorious testimony, made all the richer for the reason behind Ben and Maggie’s perseverance. As Ben has said, “Suffering points us to the hope of glory. God is using it to produce in me a longing for the return of his Son, and through our continued praise, to shine forth the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6). As they grow in their likeness of the Father, they in turn are pointing others in the same direction. 

Perhaps the dying to self inherent in the journey to adoption is just the kind of example the man who spoke up through facebook had in mind when he wondered aloud, where are the Christians willing to do the difficult parts? In the words of Billy Graham, “We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.” So let your light shine for Christ, Christian! The world is watching and is transformed when ordinary people like Ben and Maggie do extraordinary things for the sake of the Gospel. Indeed, we are the Bibles the world is reading.

If you feel led, please join Ben and Maggie
in bringing their baby home this year.

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  1. Victoria wrote:

    Hi Syboil,

    What a beautiful post. Our favorite movie/documentary on Netflix is “Beware of Christians”.. it talks about being REAL, and LIVING the word instead of just reading it and putting on a good show in front of our fellow Christians. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend it.

    Thank you for sharing about Ben & Maggie within this article too. Giving one child a family who loves them may not just save ONE child, but generations thereafter as well. When I look at family trees on ancestory.com and I see hundreds of people flowing from a thread of 1 child in a family – you get an overwhelming sense of God’s love. It is amazing!

    Beautifully written post – thank you.

    Mommy’s Playbook

    Posted 2.6.14 Reply
    • Sybil Brun wrote:

      Hi Victoria, You just made my day! : ) Thanks for the Netflix recommendation and WOW I’m not sure that I have thought of what you described in your second paragraph quite like that! I am familiar with ancestry.com and using that as a framework to imagine the generations that come from each adopted child was so moving! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts!

      Posted 2.6.14 Reply
  2. We adopted 13 of our 15 children, 12 were special needs. Adoption into God’s family is our example of how we ought to live as well. Though not everyone is called to adopt, everyone can find someone who has adopted and give them support. We too are Christians and God has blessed us through it all, though it was not an easy task to raise them.

    On the other subject, of living in comfort and such. I don’t believe God intends for us to suffer, just for suffering sake. All blessings come from Him and I do not apologize for having a nice home and vehicles that run. My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills and if He shares His bounty with us, we are blessed and thankful. But I also believe that it doesn’t end there. We must use what He gives us to evangelize the world and uplift fellow believers. It’s not what you have but what you do with it.

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  3. Tonya Nash wrote:

    Missions definitely need more support. Like you mentioned, everyone is not able to do missions, but everyone can meaningfully contribute by prayer, donating needed items, or contributing financially. I hope and pray that all goes well with Ben and Maggie’s adoption!

    I’m visiting you from the SITS Comment Love event. Have a great week!

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  4. Tonia L wrote:

    Beautiful post! I remember reading once that if everyone in North America that claimed to be a Christian would donate 10% of their income it would wipe out world hunger. Not sure how accurate that is but I’ve always believed that giving should be a top priority.

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  5. I’m not a Christian myself (I’m officially catholic, but I don’t practice), but I still think it’s beautiful what you’re saying. I think people should be more aware of each other and each other’s feelings. The world would be a better place if people would just offer each other a hand if someone needed it. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  6. This was so beautifully written. I just touched on something similar myself. It would be amazing to see just how much of an impact we could have if people would just take just a moment of their time and a few extra dollars and give it to someone in need. It wouldn’t have to be much, just one small kind gesture. Just imagine.

    I hope thinks work out for Ben and Maggie. I’ll be coming by to check on their progress.

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  7. Tara Perez wrote:

    You write beautifully. While I am technically a believer in Christ, I’m not Christian, per es, because I don’t believe every word of the bible. But I am a believer of God, and recently became a minister. I think that all paths lead to God and if we live good lives and do not hurt each other, God will embrace us all. With that being said, you are correct when you say that many Christians forget the teachings of Christ, which is to love everyone! Tobit judge and to live a life of honesty and integrity. Great post! I’m commenting as part of the SITS comment love week! I’m glad I found your blog 🙂

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  8. Tonya W. wrote:

    Your post is beautiful. I love the Billy Graham quote. Our actions do speak louder than words. I will keep Ben and Maggie in my thoughts and prayers. I have a couple of friends who have adopted children. While the road may be bumpy, the blessing they will receive is priceless.

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  9. Love how you worked and walked those powerful words out in your life… and how adoption and Ben & Maggie play into this as well. beautiful.

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  10. Well said. Beautiful! I pray for the grace and patience to be a light and example each day and for us as a family to do so as well each night with my children. I love this.

    #CommentLove #SITSBlogging

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  11. Just stopping by to say Hi as part of the SITS Comment Love this week. Your site is beautiful! It resonates such a caring message of joy! ~Thea

    Posted 2.10.14 Reply
  12. T.A. Woods wrote:

    Your post was lovely. I hope they are able to go forth with their adoption. #SITSBlogging

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  13. This post was so inspiring! The quotes used can be used in our everyday lives. #sitsblogging

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  14. Trianna wrote:

    This is a lovely post. I’m a spiritual person and your message is one of love and joy. Hopefully, Ben and Maggie will be able to open their home and hearts to their child soon. My prayers are with them.

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  15. Tosin AK wrote:

    Such inspiring quotes and bible passages. I pray their adoption journey ends with much success!
    Tosin AK via SITS

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  16. Great post. Inspiring! Headed to go take a look at their adoption journey…something close to my heart as well.

    Stopping by from SITS comment love challenge!

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  17. Tranae wrote:

    Love the quote and the message of the post. Very inspiring.

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  18. tammilee wrote:

    Love the quote! such an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing!

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  19. I applaud Ben and Maggie for choosing to adopt. Adoption is not for everyone and I think it takes special people to follow that journey, it is not easy. They will definitely have a testimony to share of God’s favor through this adoption process. I see that you are passionate concerning the things of God, we need more people like you in this world. Be blessed! Visiting from SITS.

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  20. Tamara wrote:

    What a wonderful blessings. It truly takes special people to accept others as their own. I love stories like this where He works through lives like this. Thanks for sharing.
    Visiting from the SITS Girls

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  21. Rachel wrote:

    Yes! Following, obeying the difficult parts is so important, and yet often ignored. #SITSBlogging

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  22. Tenns Reid wrote:

    That first quote is so inspiring! If only more thought like that!

    Stopping by from #SITSBlogging!

    Tenns @ New Mama Diaries

    Posted 2.11.14 Reply
  23. A beautifully convicting post, thank you for linking up to the Pintastic Pinteresting Party!

    Posted 2.12.14 Reply