By Galen C. Dalrymple
I love to watch Ramses the Great, Lord of the Nile, when he sleeps. He gets into some of the strangest positions, and sometimes falls right off the couch. He makes all sorts of noises: twitches, growls, and muffled barking. But what I enjoy watching the most is how deeply he sleeps. When he's fast asleep, you can roll him over and he won't even wake up. As my wife says, "He's dead to the world."
Ramses sure seems to enjoy his sleep -- and he gets a lot of it! He doesn't seem to mind being dead to the world at all. I envision him dreaming that he's chasing birds. Perhaps he dreams he can fly. Or maybe it's cats that he is chasing and he dreams that he can climb trees and go right up after them. I will never know, this side of heaven. All I know is that when he's dead to the world, he isn't hungry, thirsty, hot, or anxious about anything.
Romans 6:11 suggests that there is a parallel for us: "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." The author is suggesting that in order for us really to be alive to God, we need to first of all die to this world and to the sin that is in it. Yet that is a difficult task. We have a feeling that if we die to the things of this world, perhaps we will miss out on something worth having.
On the surface, it would seem to be a reasonable concern, wouldn't it? But what does this world really have to offer? Has this world really ever done you any favors? The world is not even aware of your presence. It could care less. The things of the world that entice us don't satisfy. How long did the things you desired really satisfy once you got them? How long was it before you found something else to long for?
In his sleep, Ramses seems to be in a better place. When he's dead to this world, he can really soar and fly and frolic without worries. If I want to discover what it is like really to live (with God, no less!), I need to die to this world and all the sinful things it offers. Being dead to this world isn't bad at all. Only then can I be free to live in another world -- and the next world will be a far better place than this one!
Further installments in the "Lessons My Dog Taught Me" series will appear each Monday at the Evangelical Portal.
Galen Dalrymple pastors Vineyard Hills Christian Church, a non-denominational Evangelical church in the wine country of California. His daily meditations, Daybreaks, are received by readers all over the country.