Near-Death Experience

“The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off the altar.”
–Warren Wiersbe

“Gethsemane” (Hebrew, gat shemanim)—oil press, place of crushing

Someone ran my wife off the road today. She’s okay, but there was eighty-some dollars worth of damage to the front passenger tire which had been replaced only days ago. Tholives2.jpgat’s all well and good, in the grand scheme, especially since my dear one is safe. What stewed my tomatoes was when she told me that the lady (really, I ask, should women ever have the wheel?) who ran her off the road laid on the horn to let her know for future reference and under no circumstance should Sandy ever be in front of her when she wants to change lanes. The mercury rose in my neck as I pictured my beloved being rammed into the sharp corner of some highway curbing by someone who evidently staked some kind of claim to said road.

I have to admit what my head was screaming when I got the full story. Lord, let the woman get stopped for moving violations five times between here and her home. May she just try to mouth off to one of those officers and spend a night sitting in a rank jail cell sandwiched between a throw-up drunk and a crazy person who claims to be Jesus and the easter bunny.

May her best friend betray her, Lord, and her favorite pet run away. May her mortgage company foreclose on her loan and may all four of her tires fall off her car for no apparent reason in the middle of a rainy night far from cellular service and may a sweaty, toothless guy named Tiny pull over to help her…

You see how depraved my mind can get when given ten seconds for unsupervised playtime?

And last night, at our weekly prayer fellowship, one of the guys praying was really digging in and said, “Lord, I thank You that in Your economy we don’t need to wait upon a Joshua for direction but we have all been made priests and Your instruction can come for this church from anyone…” My heart was amen-ing the context and truth of his prayer but immediately the specter of old Adam rose up in me and I found myself in a soulish struggle. Well, that’s true and all, but why can’t I be the ‘go-to’ guy? I like going to the tip of Sinai and bringing the people their instruction…oh, why do I still do it? Why must I repeatedly make sure I come out ahead? Why must I keep clawing through the sod so a dead man can get some air when what I really want is to be laid to rest in the death of Jesus? Why must I insist that the plan be mine, the credit be mine, that the roadmap be in my hand, the itinerary be according to my schedule, that the crowd come to me and not to so-and-so; why must I hurt so when I am rejected or passed over?

That’s me sleeping in Gethsemane when Another has sweat out blood. I’m content to loiter in this garden when I should be pressing in. I can barely keep my eyes open when all around me so much hangs in the balance, when there is so much at stake. What with my track record these past 24 hours, it seems I’d rather stretch out on a garden bench near the fountain, if possible, so the sound of gurgling water might lull me to sleep, not to mention cover the moans and sobs and bitter wails of the One who goes for me. I cannot die His death but I must die my own. There is a cup for me.

Trouble is, the process of such a death is so hard. Death, I’m okay with. Near-death, I can do. Dying, not so enamored with. It’s telling that the process of harvesting oil from olives is three-fold: crushing, pressing and separating. First the olive is crushed into a paste, then pressed to release its liquid form and finally, the pure oil is separated from the waste. During any of these steps I may cry out and recuse myself from the millstone. It gets too hard.

Hard enough that at the first signs of blood oozing from my sweat glands, I run to take a shower. If the battle within gets too hairy, I succumb to narcolepsy. To the tune of hobnailed Roman shoes marching my way, I am prone to tuck and run.

It pains me to say I prefer my death to be near-death, with someone who knows CPR standing close by. However, I must hasten to add that those same disciples who slept in the Garden, as I am want to do, also changed the world. They got sick and tired of being revived only to live after the flesh and the day came when each saw it through to its messy, glorious end. Crushed, pressed and separated. With self-will crushed and soulishness squeezed out, the result was the fragrance and flavor of Christ. One hundred percent pure E.V.O.O.

I’m just fool enough to believe the same might be (one day) said of me.

PRAYER: Lord, you have brought me to this garden, not to watch You die, of course, but that I might. You know my heart cries, finish the work! You know that my desire is for complete death and complete union with You. And, like Abraham, I know my Isaacs—Your Isaacs—will rejoin me on the journey and it will be old Abraham that will stay dead on that mountain. I call upon all available grace to see this through to the end, knowing You are with me, not asleep in the far off. I love You and long for the day when it is a reality that it is “no longer I”. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

11 thoughts on “Near-Death Experience

  1. marie says:

    You know why I love you so much Pastor Scott? You allow us to see inside you, to hurt with you, to die with you. Knowing your struggle is much like mine encourages me to press ahead and to encourage others to do the same.
    This week, Tuesday, to be exact, I was having one of those days when all felt hopeless for me…but my Pastor came back at me with beautiful words that deposited hope in my heart that, yes, maybe the LORD could use even me.
    Seeing your pain and struggle and your true heart’s desire to “be nothing so God can be everything”, gives me energy to stay in the race. Isn’t it mysteriously awesome how God works out His Oneness in us?

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  2. villageatmidway says:

    Pasture, I—like Marie, love to read your blogs. Not just because you are such a clever, witty, cogent writer, and you are, but because the Spirit uses you to speak to me so clearly and often. I appreciate your being REAL! I also appreciate your leadership and your availability to be used by God! Thank you.

    By the way, what IS holding you back from being published in print?

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  3. Mic says:

    My dear Brother,
    I love how God got a hold of you and put this experience down on… er the screen as it were. While I may still have been sitting in a kitchen chair, whistling “A Country Boy Can Survive”, cleaning a shotgun and plotting my next move:)
    A couple of motivating points for you;
    Last night the Lord gripped me with the lyrics
    Do you know;
    That you caught My eye?
    In the secret place;
    Where you chose to die.

    I am blown away by the magnitude of His love!
    Second point of motivation; Wes, encouraged by a professor, is starting work on a novel. See you tomorrow bru’

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  4. pasturescott says:

    Marie, one day I can only hope to encourage you as you have encouraged me, my sister…

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  5. pasturescott says:

    V.A.M., you have touched on my greatest desire: to be a vessel through whom God can speak. A long time ago, the Lord used a chorus to shape my heart: “It’s my desire to be like Jesus, it’s my desire to be like Him…you can take the world and all its riches–I don’t need earth’s fame–it’s my desire to be like Him!” Bless you for reading and encouraging. God really used you.

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  6. pasturescott says:

    Mic and a shotgun–not a good combination…

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  7. J.Thomas says:

    Something that comes to mind when I consider the “death” aspect of our union with Christ, is the picture we have in Genesis of Adam being put to sleep so that his companion could be brought out of his side.

    Flesh of His flesh, Bone of His bone.

    After this “birth” of Eve, Adam awakens to find the most beautiful (and truly the only) girl in the world by his side.

    What a picture of what was to happen later in the death and resurrection of our Lord!

    Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus rebukes His followers for mourning the soon to be “loss” of their Lord.

    With death impatiently awaiting the execution of the Son of Man, our Lord speaks, “Don’t weep for me!”

    How?!

    Sure, in some mysterious way, God incarnate had His dark hour in the garden, but in my heart of hearts, I believe He received the comfort of knowing just what was awaiting Him on the other side.

    His gorgeous Wife.

    “It is not good for (Christ) to be alone”.

    I believe the same principal stands true today.

    Dying is hard, until we become convinced, by the Father, of just what does await us on the other side.

    Christ IS your life my brother!!!

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  8. marie says:

    J, I’ve never quite thought of it in this way. I tend to think of Christs’ Bride as only being those who are indwelt with His Spirit after His death and resurrection made it possible. Are the old testiment prophets and men of God that were in Heaven at that time what you are referring to as what awaited Jesus on the other side? Or is it His Father – the One-ness that had been broken when Jesus paid for us? Or, maybe, it is that He would finally be able to complete her (by His Spirit) and receive her unto Himself in due time?
    I’m trying to dig into your brain a little so I can understand your beautiful illustration. I hope you don’t mind…

    The LORD bless you, J!

    Marie

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  9. J.Thomas says:

    Marie,

    Essentially what I am saying is that just as Adam had to “sleep” in order to have his companion, so did Christ have to die in order to have His.

    (Does this not ring true in our married lives as well?!)

    Since She (we) are in union with Him and are constituted of His nature, we also must “die” for our Companion to be fully manifest in our lives and the world around us.

    Although we are the church, it is only so by His Spirit in us.

    Basically Christ IS the church.

    As He gains ground in our lives, together, we see more of what the church (the Bride) really is.

    This process is through our identification with Him in death and ressuection, and begins by knowing that we died with Him on the cross at Calvary.

    Jesus admonishes,”Lose your life,…that you may find it..”

    That Life is Him, the true Life of the church.

    If I’m not careful, I’ll end up in too much stream of conciousness rambling here…

    Does this clear up my last comment?

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  10. marie says:

    Yes, and I agree with all you say above. It is a marvelous thing how our Bridegroom works His life into ours as we decrease and give Him the reign and the right to do as He will.🙂

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  11. Tina says:

    Thank you for this honesty. I had a similiar experience myself recently, which led me to desperately cry out to Jesus: “Less of me and more of You”. That old self has to rear its ugly head…it just can’t stay dead…so annoying (more than that, heart-breaking). Thank God for His grace which extends to sleeping disciples who should be able to stay awake.

    You are a blessing, Pasture Scott. How fortunate your congregation is to have such a wonderful man of God as their pastor! Many prayers for encouragement and the power of the Spirit for continued death and ever-conquering resurrection!

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