Dr. Lee Roberson served as the pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for over forty years. After one Sunday-morning service in which several people got saved and others got baptized, he went out the back door of the large sanctuary and down the alley behind the church. He was met there by a dear lady from the church. He greeted her by saying, “How are you today, ma’am?” She answered, “Not very good. You know about it, don’t you?” Somewhat surprised, Dr. Roberson said, “No, I don’t know what you are talking about.” Incredulous, the woman said, “You mean you didn’t know about this?” Again, Dr. Roberson said, “No.”
The woman then launched into her story. “Dr. Roberson, you know that for 22 years I have sat in a certain seat in the balcony to your left.” “Yes, that’s right,” said the preacher. “Well, this morning I went to my place, and a man was sitting there. I told him that was my seat, but he just said, ‘It’s not yours today.'” After the man’s refusal to move, the woman had gotten mad, left the service, and stood outside to wait for Dr. Roberson.
And how did the venerable old pastor respond to her complaint? He said, “Ma’am, you have heard me preach again and again on dying to self. How long has it been since you died?” Then he got in his car and went on his way.
During the service that night, while the choir was singing, Dr. Roberson looked up to the balcony, but he didn’t see the woman in her usual seat. Finally, after scanning over the sanctuary, he found her sitting in a new seat in the lower section. When their eyes met, she just smiled. Roberson used to love to tell that story and end it by saying, “She died. And I haven’t had a problem with her since.”
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Keep in mind now that nobody took up a cross and lived. And so, Christian, I’ll just ask you, how long has it been since you died? Have you died today? For that matter, have you ever died? You see, the only way that you can properly live for Christ is to attend your own funeral afresh and anew each morning as you die to your will and present yourself to live for His.