Self Denial

And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

— St. Luke 9:23-24

Here is the promise to those who will leave all and follow him: “Whosoever shall lose his life, for my sake, the same shall save it,”—in St. Matthew, “Find it.” To lose ourselves in the salvation of God’s heart! To be no longer any care to ourselves, but know God taking divinest care of us, his own! To revel in the unsought love of those who love us as we love them! To know that we are in the child’s secret of existence, that we are pleasing in the eyes and to the heart of the Father! What a self is this to receive again from him for that we forsook! We left it paltry, low, mean; he took up the poor cinder of a consciousness, carried it back to the workshop of his spirit, made it a true thing, and restored it to our having forever!

All high things can be spoken only in figures of speech; and these cannot fit intellectually; they can be interpreted truly only by such as have the spiritual fact in themselves. When we speak of a man and his soul, we imply two selves; but we cannot divide ourselves so, and the figure suits but imperfectly. It was never the design of the Lord to explain things to our understanding—we require a means, a word, whereby to think of high things: that is what a true figure, while far from perfect, will always be to us. And the true soul sees, or will come to see, that the Lord’s words, his figures, always represent more than they are able to present; for, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are the heavenly things higher than the earthly signs of them, let the signs be good as ever sign may be.


by Jolyn Canty

I am truly amazed by the opposites with which God works in our lives.  They are contrary to all that we see in the world at large.  But MacDonald says that to lose my life for the Father is the only way that I will find myself in the “salvation of God’s heart!”  To love is to be loved; to give is to receive; to forgive is to be forgiven; to die is to live.  We belong and are always at home because we belong to Him, and so we are the ones who can freely give.  Ugo Bassi and St. Francis of Assisi say it much better than I can:

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth,
For Love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give.
Ugo Bassi, 18th Century

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be
Consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi – 13th Century