Which comes first, life or death?

I just recently began Beth Moore’s 90 Days with the One and Only.
It’s a devotional all about Jesus.
I thought it would be a perfect devotional to begin during Lent,
since what I really want right now is to be focused on Jesus as I journey towards Easter.
It’s always amazing to me, although by now I should expect it,
how God uses scripture and devotions to speak into my life,
for the exact time and season that my life is in.
This week’s readings have all been about Jesus’ birth.
The beginning.
In some ways it has felt strange to “look back” at the themes of Christmas
while I am walking towards the torment and death of my Savior,
but this morning it struck me that this circle of life is what every day is about…
new life and death, death and new life.
Yes, we all are born, live and die.  But that is not really what I am talking about.
In all common sense, I think we would all say that life comes before death.
You have to be born in order to die, right?
Well, if you are thinking of it that way, yes.
In the midst of doing life, however, 
I am realizing that you really can’t have life without death first.
Yep, it’s the whole chicken and the egg thing…
Oh, I am alive and I am living life.  I love my life.
I love my family, my husband, my kids, my friends, my home.
Life is amazing and beautiful, but in all honesty, it’s also hard.
Things don’t always go the way I would have them go.
My kids don’t always act the way I would like them to act.
I do not always react to people or situations with patience or kindness.
I do not always like how others act or how I act,
and I don’t always respond very well to that.
To truly experience the joy of life,
I need to die to this idea that my way is the way.
To live as Christ,
I must surrender my life to him, let go of all I want to control.
It’s hard to do, and painful at times.
It means acknowledging that I don’t know it all and can’t control it all.
I am not perfect (ouch!) and that is ok.
It means taking a good look at myself, how I interact and react to people and situations,
living in forgiveness and doing the hard work of changing.
And so today, I am reminded of the joy of new life,
the sweetness of a baby’s smile,
the freshness of a Spring morning,
the gift of God’s mercy and grace,
all of which I can never enjoy to the full unless I look outside myself
and surrender all I can not control, which is really everything.
Today I stand humbly before the manger
and humbly before the cross,
in awe of the life that Jesus lived, sacrificed and gave all for us.
Thankful for a death that in turn gives new life.

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