Sep 01 2016 An Obituary For My Old Self
Write Your Obituary and Bury Your Old Self…
Once and for all!
I have friends who’ve made reading the obituary page of the newspaper part of their morning routine. Without fail they grab their coffee and open up the obits to read about the dearly departed. I think I understand the “why” of it, but I’ve just never been that sort. I like my coffee strong; a good French roast with a bit of cream and a pinch of stevia… hold the obit. Please.
But there was this one day…
A few years ago I was reading through the book of Romans: the apostle Paul’s brilliant and beautiful magna carta of Christian faith where he questions and answers in detail the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and explains the glorious and profound implications of that for every Christ-follower. It’s jaw-dropping gorgeous… signed in the precious blood of Christ. Chapter 8 of Romans happens to be my favorite, but this particular day I’d been intrigued by Chapter 6 and the “old self” Paul talks about as being “dead to sin but alive to God.”
For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body ruled by sin might
be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
I’d read it dozens of times, heard it preached, and nearly scratched my head bald thinking it through practically. Paul assumes that we know that our old self was crucified, dead and buried with Christ. But on this day I was given a challenge via a blog post by one of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore, who posed this question:
“Do you know that your old self was crucified with Christ?”
My answer was “yes” I did know it. But I’d never fully considered or thought through specifically what about my old self had actually died, was crucified, dead and buried with Christ. Furthermore, I had not faced the fact that from time to time I still chose to play Lazarus and unearth my old self, wipe the dirt off her pale, lifeless face and drag her around in my new life, with all her guilt and shame, as nothing but the heavy load-of-a-dead-girl that she was.
Why is it that we have the hardest dang time leaving dead enough alone? And I know I’m not the only one.
So, back to the challenge… to write an obituary announcing the death of my “Old Self”. I glanced at Miss Beth’s blog post that morning and promptly closed it, swung my chair around and got back to work. Somehow that blog reminder kept popping back up throughout the day. S e r i o u s l y…the Holy Spirit can be so persistent. He annoyed me with it until about 3:30 that afternoon when I said loudly and with great exasperation, “OK… I’M DOING IT!” And I hammered out an obituary for my old self that proved to be a life-changing spiritual catharsis for me, and a beautiful reminder of the stunning grace of God in my life.
You know, it’s one thing to hear that someone has died. But somehow reading their obituary just makes it so…so final. So official. So here it is…
An Obituary for My Old Self
noun o.bit.u.ar.y (ə-ˈbi-chə-ˌwer-ē)
1. a published announcement of a death, often accompanied by a short biography of the dead person
Punky Tolson, August 29, 2013
The community of Empty Heart is mourning the loss of one of its most loyal supporters, Punky Leonard Tolson who died at the age of 38.
Throughout her brief old-self lifetime, Punky struggled with a constant critical spirit within her, a nagging comparison of herself to others, and a deadly addiction to human love. A veteran people-pleaser she was often the life of the party and was most known for masquerading her obsessive hunger for love and acceptance with sarcastic humor.
Punky was most known for her dramatic attempts to be what everyone else expected her to be which naturally led her to a career in film, TV and theater where she earned critical acclaim in such roles as Needy, Desperate, Adulterer, Liar, and her award-winning performance as Insecure in the Broadway musical, “Who Am I Anyway?” Through her battle with comparison and a self-critical spirit she nearly completely wished away the life she was supposed to live.
Finally, in 1996, Punky succumbed to a dramatic fall into a slimy pit of despair where muck and mire pulled her under.
Punky is survived by the blood of Jesus, the grace and mercy of God, the kindness of her Savior, the power of Christ, a true identity in Him, and a ministry made out of her many messes.
In lieu of flowers, investments of your life can be made to “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Punky Tolson © 2013
A couple of months later I was watching Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast (Sept. 2013) online when she began sharing some of the “obituaries” she’d received in response to the challenge she’d given on her blog post, using them as an illustration for her teaching on Romans 6. I was stunned when she began reading mine aloud…to everyone. I sobbed. No, I bawled. Not because she’d chosen mine to read, but because I’d never heard it read aloud before. When someone dies we know they’re dead, but somehow reading their obituary makes it so… official. And hearing my “obituary” read aloud made it so very official for me. “She’s dead,” I said to myself. ‘That old-self-me is dead! I’m dead to all that stuff!'” Dead. Buried. And the ink is bone dry on the obit gladly announcing her death.
Sweet friends, I cannot encourage you enough…any one of you who struggles with their past to take it to Jesus. Now. And write that obituary, sister! Say good riddance to your old, dead self. Because you need to know and believe that your “old self has been crucified with Christ…”. Not only that, but it’s been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Now the very thing(s) that worked against you have been “bought back” and redeemed to work for you. God’s grace is sufficient for YOU to walk in the freedom of New Life in Christ.
Jesus IS the Great Redeemer. He wastes nothing. So let Him have your past. All of it. And let Him make it a miracle. Only Jesus can do that. Only Jesus can make ministry out of our mistakes, and bring the sweetest message of encouragement and hope from our many messes. Sweet Jesus! Only. Jesus.
Go. Do it now. Write that obituary, bury your old self and have the funeral… once and for all.
You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!
Here’s the link to the original blog post by Beth Moore from August 2013, “A Bit of an Obit.”
Copyright © 2016 Punky Tolson