“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
The Sea Anemone, natural creature that it is, reacts in the natural way to pain and discomfort. When something touches it not only closes in on itself, it “injects a dose of flesh of the aggressor or prey.” (Wikipedia encyclopedia). Turning in – becoming self-absorbed in a crisis, is our natural reaction to emotional pain. The difficulty that we are going through takes center stage and demands our attention. Problems can drain us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Not only do we tend to “turn in”, the natural inclination is to lash out at anything that comes close. We really aren’t as compartmentalized as we think. Hurt has a way of oozing into other areas of our life and affecting seemingly unrelated areas and relationships. The natural way of the Sea Anemone, even though it may be our default mechanism, is clearly not the best way to conduct our lives.
Jesus, our great High priest (Hebrews 4:15) was no stranger to pain and suffering. Yet, He taught us, to deny ourselves and to not be fixated on our own life. It’s a contradiction to our natural reaction but Jesus words are life giving in their application. As we face what James calls “various trials” we are, at the same time, encouraged to “give our lives away.” To put it another way, when bad things are happening in our life and we make a conscious decision to put that aside for a time and focus on others pain and doing tangible things to help, we ourselves experience a degree of emotional healing. In “losing our life” we truly “find our life.” Only God could make an equation like that work..
And so, if I had to choose to be another creature, it would not be a sea anemone. They are too emotionally unhealthy. But a silly sea ottter, perhaps – now that’s an idea. Anyone want to go swimming?