the old shell of self

God’s means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger,
but by making us weaker and weaker.
That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say;
but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin,
not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him;
not by helping him to do anything, but by removing him from the scene of action.

Watchman Nee

We must die if we are to live.
There is no spiritual life for you, for me, for any man, except by dying into it.
Have you a fine-spun righteousness of your own?
It must die.
Have you any faith in yourself?
It must die.
The sentence of death must be in yourself, and then you shall enter into life.
The withering power of the Spirit of God must be experienced before his
quickening influence can be known:
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it.”
You must be slain by the sword of the Spirit before you can be made
alive by the breath of the Spirit.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


(the shells of cicadas discarded on a pine tree / Julie Cook /2017)

Summer, to a young child growing up in the South, meant evenings spent
catching lighting bugs in an old mayonnaise jar or scouring the sides of pine trees
for the crunchy fragile brown leftover shells of cicadas.

These leftover exoskeletons often found on the sides of pine trees or fence posts
are simply the shedding of the old skin of an ever growing and ever changing cicada.
Cicadas being the creatures responsible for the loud raucous screeching heard
throughout the landscape of the waning days of a southern summer.

Finding a shell was akin to finding a small treasure…
of which was then joyfully and ceremoniously carried to the start of school,
nestled safely in a small cotton ball lined box,
all for the start of the new school year’s show and tell.

But the shell was always quickly beaten out for the coveted oohs and ahhs
when the shark tooth, that someone else brought in from their summer trip
to the beach,was triumphantly presented…

Science teaches us that there is a wealth of amazing creatures scattered
across this globe…all of which constantly shed their old shells or skins only to
emerge as something new, clean and fresh…

And the fact is… that we, that being you and I, are really no different.

Whereas we may not break out of our skin, leaving the old sloughed off
empty layer littered along the floor, we do however…and we must…
do away with our old selves.

For if we insist on keeping that which is old and bound to this world, refusing to
relinquish worldly flesh, then we are bound to death….
for all that is of the world’s will perish.
There will be no new birth, nothing fresh, nothing clean.

Yet if we are willing to die unto self, surrendering that which is earth bound,
yielding to the desire of the spirit to be reunited from whence it came,
then we will have life eternal…which is the treasure indeed.

So then…
Two choices…
life or death….
that should be an easy choice….
and yet oddly, it is not.

“Many, indeed, cry “Lord, Lord,” and make mention of him,
but honour him not at all.
How so?
They take his work out of his hands,
and ascribe it unto other things;
their repentance, their duties,
shall bear their iniquities.
They do not say so; but they do so.

The computation they make, if they make any, it is with themselves.
All their bartering about sin is in and with their own souls.
The work that Christ came to do in the world, was to “bear our iniquities,”
and lay down his life a ransom for our sins.

The cup he had to drink of was filled with our sins,
as to the punishment due to them.
What greater dishonour then, can be done to the Lord Jesus,
and to ascribe this work to anything else, –
to think to get rid of our sins by any other way or means?”

John Owen

15 comments on “the old shell of self

  1. Angie says:

    Thanks for the trip back to my daughter’s efforts when it came to the cicadas, Julie. She collected them in a box — the same box she stored the pretty rocks she also collected. I’m sure you can fill in all blanks here. I guess we all learn that way, huh?
    I’m feeling more and more like my own old skin has been shedding quickly now. The days are shorter,, but at night I feel myself slipping further away. It’s an exciting ride, Julie. And so easy to do — just be ready at all times like you say in your post. The old is shedding and being replaced little by little with all new life. Meet you some day when we both get there.

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    As I was reading your post this morning, I was thinking of how amazingly God provides for all His creatures. During that moment, my son called to say he will have to put his dog down today. His almost 13 year old golden lab has been his buddy for all those years and it’s difficult to let him go. I truly hope that there are animals and critters in heaven. We will have many greeting us when we arrive..

  3. Lynda says:

    Julie, dying to self (or detachment as Ignatius would write) is definitely the key to living as Jesus taught. But how difficult this is! Our focus needs to be our Lord. Blessings on your day.

  4. Sarah says:

    Wonderful post, Julie. 🙂

  5. oneta hayes says:

    Crucifying the flesh – hard. A good thing to remember I can do all things thru Christ… So easy to call on that scripture when one wants to do big things like getting a college degree, buying a car, or going to the mission field. But it is so hard when it comes to getting up at 5:00 to spend early morning with Jesus or going to help out in the soup line, or for me to lose ten pounds.

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