Nobody really wants to die. As human beings, we have a natural aversion to death, an innate sense of self-preservation. When our spirit was reborn, life sprang forth suddenly from the spiritual death that resided in our hearts. But the death to our carnal nature doesn’t take place that quickly. No, it’s an intentional process that we initiate as we become willing for the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ that resides within our new nature.
As we approach the death to our selfishness and personal motives and every thing that stands between us and our destiny and purpose, we often experience the same reactions terminal patients have to learning of their own impending death. Wrestling our flesh to death brings us face to face with what psychologists have determined are the five stages of dying. You’ll experience these to one degree or another during any time of truly seeking God. Look these stages over, and don’t be caught off guard when you walk through one!
I feel fine. I’m better off than I used to be. I’m better off than most other people I know. I don’t really need to seek God. I don’t really need to fast and pray. I can get by with this particular thing still holding on in my life.
Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, and reality, relating to the stronghold that needs to die out in your life. Denial is a defense mechanism that enables people to live with a problem much longer than they should. Some people can become locked in this stage and never deal with a major change. As long as you can stay in the denial stage, you will.
It’s not fair! I shouldn’t have to fast and pray! This is all _______ ‘s fault! If God had done what He should do, I wouldn’t be dealing with this problem!
Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, with others (especially those close to them), and with God. When you are putting some aspect of your flesh to death, be careful not to take it out on those around you!
I’ll do anything you want, God, if I can just eat. If you’ll go ahead and take this thing from me, I promise I’ll pray more, read more, worship more. I’ll do _______ if I don’t have to deal with ______.
Traditionally, this stage for people who are facing physical death often involves an attempt to bargain with God. We also attempt to negotiate a compromise when we are facing the death of one or more facets of our soulish life. But bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution. If you understand that your fleshly stronghold will eventually disable you spiritually (and even physically), then bargaining to put it off until later or trying to substitute something else in its place will prove unfruitful.
I’m so messed up and far away from God’s perfect will, why bother with anything? I’m going to mess up anyway, so what’s the point of trying to fix this? I can’t do this. I’m a failure. I am right back at the same place I’ve always been, nothing’s changed, so I give up.
It’s natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty over what we have done and what is to come. It shows that we have at least begun to accept the reality of the situation in our lives. However, it is important to keep in mind the reality of God’s grace to complete the good work He has begun in us and not rely on our own ability. It’s in this place that we must realize that the Holy Spirit is the one who has helped us make it this far, so we can trust Him to see us through to the end.
It’s going to be okay. I can trust God to take this part of me and fill me with more of Him. I don’t have to know the outcome or the answer; I only have to know Him more. I don’t have to have my way; I only have to be in His will.
Getting to this stage depends purely on your willingness to trust God. Remember, coming to a place of acceptance is easier the more times you submit yourself to the process of seeking Him and dying to yourself. Submit yourself under the mighty hand of God… He will exalt you, or cause you to rise up out of this death, in due time!
Q: Which stage in this process are you currently walking in?