38-39"If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me."
Jesus has spent a great deal of time explaining to the disciples that people will not automatically like them, won't accept their message just because they know them, and will not likely be very welcoming in their words. Why? It is simply because they speak words that bring conviction - words anointed by the Spirit of God. The very presence of light makes things that were once comfortably hidden in the dark very uncomfortable!
Now he adds this promise - to those who will go all the way with him, through thick and thin. He presents a kind of "riddle" to his disciples about losing self, but finding self in the process. A riddle is nothing more than a statement framed in such a way that it forces the hearer to use their faculties to discover its meaning.
As a young Christian, I thought I was big stuff - as I have grown a little in Christ, I see that I am really quite different than the way I saw myself originally. Why do I see myself differently now? As more of my "self" was exposed to the power of the Spirit of God within, the more my "self" became less important to me. Instead, I want what is honoring to God, not self.
My grandson brought a tadpole home from the river this week. His mom is a real trooper! She went to the store, bought the blood worms, made him a little habitat to swim around in and is learning what it takes to keep this thing alive.
It made me recall the times I watched in amazement as the transformation of tadpole into a little frog took place in my science classes. I was always in awe of the transformation process that things in nature go through. I am no less amazed by the transformation that our natural man goes through as the Spirit of God becomes active in a man's life.
I am not sure what the tadpole is thinking as it is going through that process of change, but if I were to imagine myself as a tadpole for a moment, I guess I'd be a little "antsy" to get to the finished product. In the interim between this "swimming thing" on my way to being a "hopping thing", I don't look so hot! I have this long tail that belongs to the "old me" and I have these new "feet" that belongs to the "new me".
I don't seem to "fit" in either the old or the new very well - I am in a state of transition - of "becoming". That is what it is like to lose self and at the same time discover self. We are transitioning from the old ways of thinking, doing, and believing. The "fit" of the old no longer makes us entirely comfortable any longer. We see the benefits of the new and we are torn because we also know the "benefits" of the old.
If the tadpole loses its tail, will it swim as well? If it suddenly finds it enjoys hours basking on a lily-pad in the warmth of the sun, will the coolness of the stream be a delight any longer? There is "strain" in change. Tension is created because we seemed so perfectly "fit" to who we knew to be reality in our lives. When the beginning evidence of change becomes apparent (as when the tadpole begins to sprout its legs), we often don't know any better than to resist that change.
In the interim, we are awkward with our "new creation" - but in the end, we are a thing totally transformed, a site to behold. Now, you may not think of a frog as a whole lot better than a tadpole - so for those of you that don't see the frog as a thing of beauty, just think of the caterpillar and the butterfly! In discovering the new life Christ brings, we lose sight of the old one we worked so hard to hold onto.
Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds - change begins with thought. As one set of thoughts is replaced by the new, the "form" of our actions begins to be affected (we are sprouting little legs). The more comfortable we get with our new actions, the more we will appreciate them - when the tadpole uses his legs the first time, he sees the purpose for them!
So, even though we lose the "old", we get to experience new things when we embrace the "new". Those little legs take us to new places we'd never be able to experience if the transformation never took place! God has us in a place of transformation - instead of complaining about not being what we once were, or resisting what we are becoming, just sit back and enjoy the journey!