Reposted, original by Damon Owens

As we approach the first week of Lent, the idea that we must abandon ourselves into the hands of God, that we must die in order to live, is a particularly appropriate idea to reflect on. When you think about it, the idea of dying in order to live is not unique to religion—Christian or any other. Every world-class athlete, virtuoso, artist, or master of a craft sets himself or herself apart by the deliberate decision to sacrifice personal desires and comforts in the pursuit of perfection. Strict diets, long study, endless practice, injury, pain, successes, and failures are the tried-and-true marks of a master-in-training. These countless “deaths” are the price of being able to “live” the extraordinary life.

Without exception, there is also a master—a coach, teacher, trainer, mentor—who is chosen to lead, drive, guide, encourage, and form us through these “deaths.” Perfection cannot be achieved alone. There are no self-made masters—not in athletics, the arts, or any trade or craft. This is just as true in spiritual matters.

The first step to perfection is opening our hearts—our deepest selves—to the gift of the Holy Spirit. We must be willing to surrender every part of ourselves: our intellect, our will, our memory, and our sins. In these encounters, God will reveal to us the truth about who he is and what we must do to “become who we are.” He will also bring us spiritual directors as personal trainers—strength coaches, skills specialists, conditioning coaches, and nutritionists. Like any other master-in-training, our chance for victory lies in the quality of the coaches and their training plan and our submission to that plan.

God is perfect. His plan is perfect. Will Christ the Bridegroom find us faithful to that plan when he returns for his Bride?