The Secret to Life
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25
While enslaved to my addiction, I wanted out. I knew I’d be much happier if I found sobriety, but I also knew that the cost of sobriety was higher than I was willing to pay. I longed for recovery, but I knew there was a mountain of misery between it and me. I needed treatment, confession, and radical, painful change. Even if I managed to do all those things, I still couldn’t imagine getting through life without my pills.
It wasn’t until the pain of addiction became so awful that I became willing to endure the discomfort of change. What I suspected was true. Transformation was painful. But here, on the other side, I wouldn’t give up my recovery for anything. The indescribable peace and joy I have now is something I cannot imagine surrendering.
Jesus, in today’s passage, describes this process of finding true life. He says that to find it, we must continually turn from our path to follow his. It is in surrendering the right to do things our way, that we become free to live God’s way, which is the only route to the life for which we were made.
We erroneously think that life is found in Eat, Drink and Be Merry. It’s not wrong to eat and drink of course, but when we seek our joy, purpose and meaning in our appetite and desires, we find that immediate gratification quickly fades, turning to emptiness. Then, the only way to fill the void is to indulge again. This leads inevitably to addiction, consequences, and misery. Jesus says that in seeking our own life, we lose it. It is only in surrendering ourselves to him that we attain life.
Here, Jesus explains both the secret to authentic life and the reason we struggle with finding it. Surrendering our way is profoundly hard. Often, it is only when the pain of the old life is so horrible that we become willing to abandon it. Even when we do abandon it, the temptation to return will persist. We won’t be perfect in this life, but Christ asks for progress while forgiving imperfection. The Christian life is one of continually doing what it takes to turn from the old to follow the new. This is joy and peace. This is life.