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.