“when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish… this He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God.” (Joh. 21:18,19)
Here is Jesus relaying to John the death that glorifies God. This is a death which every saint is to partake; a death where another constrains us and leads us whenever he wills. But the One, that both girds and carries, is the Lord Himself.
This is the way of the cross. And those who have not discovered the way of the cross have yet to experience the way of the kingdom (Acts 14:22). The cross is painful. It is not a mere mystical experience we appropriate by faith. It’s not a path to green pastures, to prosperity, comfort, blessings, or status. It’s not the way to self-actualization or the maximization of one’s potential.
The cross is the inworking of death by the power of God by actual hardship in our lives whereby we come to the end of our self and begin to live in total submission to the will of the Father.
This death of the cross is what brings an end to the natural man; the carnal mind, the consciousness of old Adam which continually pressures us to pursue our own way, our own plans, our own visions, our own dreams, our own understanding, our own gratification.
When we were young, we all girded ourselves with our devices and pursued whatever path was right in our own eyes. Such was the way of Israel’s self-determination. They took counsel, but not of Him. They devised plans, but not of HIs Spirit. They went down to Egypt to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh and trusted in the shadow of Egypt. They girded themselves and walked where they pleased.
But with one’s spiritual maturity (with the increase of Christ within) comes the laying down of one’s self-life. For in every son of God, the Lord carefully prepares the situations, places and experiences whereby our self-reliance is brought to the futility of itself. This is the process of dying daily.
Every son of God who is now being girded by the Lord is a prisoner and bondservant of the Lord. Paul, who pursued this quality of life, counted himself a prisoner and bondservant of Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:1, 4:1, Rom. 1:1). For “he that is called, being free, is Christ’s bondservant” (1 Cor. 7:22). No wonder then that Simon Peter, James, Timothy, Epaphras, and Jude, together with Paul, embraced the title.
A bondservant is one who partakes in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, who always caries in their body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and fills up in their flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. All this we are called to by the effectual working of His Spirit, so that, ultimately, the virtues and powers of Christ’s life would be wrought and manifested in us.
Dear saint, if today the Lord is girding you and taking you where you do not wish, rest assured that He is dealing with you as a son and drawing you to know and experience Him in higher dimensions.