Following God is not easy. Our journey with God is a gradual death to everything we love outside of Him...
…Death to our desires.
…Death to our flesh.
…Death to our worldly possessions and pursuits.
…Death to our self-indulgence.
…Death to our will.
Death to these things may sound depressing, but God is not asking you to deny yourself these pleasures to be miserable in this life. God wants what’s best for us, and all of these things keep us chained, whether we know it or not. We crave, obsess, want, and spend our lives accumulating things and experiences that don’t fill our empty holes. We miss the bigger picture of our lives.
We live in a culture of self-indulgence with an appetite for excess – food, entertainment, stuff, bigger homes, new experiences, and so on. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, and in fact, they are gifts from God. We need to ask ourselves, however, if they have become placeholders for not developing a deeper relationship with God. Our love of the gifts should not exceed our love of the Giver. Death to our self-indulgence must happen so we can become more like Christ, and immersed in the love of God, which will truly give us peace, purpose, and fullness of life.
Have you noticed that the further you fall in love with God, and deeper you go on the path of following Him, the harder the path gets? More is required of you. More of your old life dies. You are gently coaxed to go deeper, let go of more, and live more simply, all the while, finding more genuine life, wisdom, and love in Him through the process of death to self. Over time, it doesn't feel like you sacrificed anything because you find that none of what you used to hold so dear really mattered anyway.
Those who follow the path of consecrated life and saints are living examples of this sort of death. They died to their old self and the world, to follow God in dynamic way. For those of us who aren’t called to this radical sort of death (at least not yet), consider small deaths. For example, denying yourself a new piece of clothing, swapping television for prayer time, giving the extra food in your pantry to the needy, going on a retreat instead of an expensive vacation, or whatever other sacrifices God is calling you to.
You can’t go wrong if you die to the world for His sake.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. —Matthew 16:25