In Ernest Becker’s The Birth & Death of Meaning, Becker writes:
“Most of our life is in a large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are; what our basic strength is & what thing it is we were meant to work upon the world.”
This secular-minded author believes the issue of identity cannot possibly be dealt with strictly in terms of scientific psychology.
Jesus long ago put it kind of like this: Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? “Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself.” (The Message Matthew 16:24-27)
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Mark 8:34-37 – The Message)
I have longed for relief for a few days – for an escape. What from? I see it laying there before my feet today again. I dread it. Christ has laid for me to pick up daily. It represents many painful experiences, but it is the only way to live. It says that Christ is in control of my relationships, calling, and legacy. He has assigned my reputation and my place of service. It represents the crucible of preaching week after week, the death of self-protection in leadership, and the loneliness of abandonment.
The strange and counter-intuitive nature of the Christian life is that when we pick up our deadly crosses that are laid at our feet each morning we are choosing life. We are choosing to be lead by Another Savior and experienced leader. We are choosing to suffer a better, redemptive pain. We learn to navigate through relational and physical scars from Him who bore the utmost suffering for others. We refuse the dreadful consequences of self-preservation and self-help. We offer up our daily sacrifice of ourselves only to find our true selves and identity in tact and saved. Either we choose His way or our way, which is a tragic loss of our souls.
“It is an evidence of a discontented, distrustful, unstable spirit, to be weary of the place in which God has set us, and to be for leaving it immediately whenever we meet with any uneasiness or inconvenience in it. It is folly to think of escaping that cross which, being laid in our way, we ought to pick up. It is our wisdom to make the best of that which is, for it is seldom that changing our place is mending it.” — Matthew Henry Commentary on Ruth 1:2