I have come to the conclusion that dying to self can be compared to climbing to the top of an active volcano and jumping into the flaming fire and molten lava. First of all it’s hard enough to get to the place of even considering dying to self. Just imagine the climb to the top of an active volcano. Then at the edge of the volcano you have the choice to die to self and jump in. Once you jump, you die, but you become part of something bigger. You are on fire, part of something unstoppable and bigger than yourself.
But, who wants to die to self in order to become part of something bigger? We all like to consider ourselves the biggest. Pride actuated within our hearts rules us and keeps us smaller and more dead to our potential than if we jumped in the fire and died to self to become a part of something bigger than we are. When we die to self, our life becomes the smoke ascending from the volcano, a holy sacrifice to God and his eternal wisdom.
It’s our pride that keeps us small, our pride lies to us, it tells us we are big enough on our own without jumping into the fire. It tells us if we jump we give up everything we ever wanted and we will never enjoy the fruits of serving ourselves again. Pride actually keeps us in a tiny little prison too afraid to jump. Too afraid of the uncertainty of being truly alive while actually dead. It doesn’t seem possible so we don’t. Many of us don’t even try to climb the mountain to look in to the top of the volcano and even consider jumping in. There are people who say only the weak believe in God but it is only by the strength of God that we can jump into the midst of the raging volcano.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the fire. They had two choices, worship the king of this earth or worship the King of the universe. Basically they could choose to worship the temporal or the eternal. They chose to worship the eternal God of heaven and not only die to self, but face the possibility of physical death as well.
King Nebuchadnezzar had the same choice. But rather than worship his creator he chose to insist on receiving worship that wasn’t his to receive. When the three Israelites chose to worship the eternal God they opened themselves up to something bigger and more powerful than self. King Neb on the other hand made his world smaller by focusing on his own selfish desires.
When the Israelites would not bow down to him, King Neb became angry. Anger is a fire inside of us desiring to be fed. His fire demanded the death of those who would not cave to his wishes. In the process of heating the fires of the furnace as hot as they had ever been several of his faithful soldiers died from the heat. Innocent people died because King Neb needed to feed the angry beast within. How many innocent people have been stepped on, pushed aside, ignored, because an inflated self pushed ahead knocking down anything in it’s way?
When the Israelites stepped inside the fire, their world became bigger. The Son of the eternal God himself walked with them and protected them from the fire which had killed several soldier who came too near to it. When King Neb saw the three Israelites still alive and a fourth walking with them, he recognized a power bigger than his own. His own self aggrandized world of power shrank immensely in the presence of the power of God.
We can jump into the volcano and die to self while becoming a part of something bigger through no effort of our own except the giving up of self. Or we can walk away and next to the volcano pick up some sticks and start our own fire. But no matter how hard we try, no matter how far we run, or how out of breath we are with trying to keep our fire going, it will always be a tiny little self powered fire in danger of being put out by the next rain cloud headed our direction.
God’s wisdom and beauty is like a fall day. There is beauty in death to self.