Must I die a thousand painful deaths?

Aug 11, 2022 | 3 comments

Dear Professor, 

Must I die a thousand painful deaths?  Is this what you meant when you said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”?  I’m also reminded of what your friend Paul said, “those who belong to you have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.”

This most recent death has been extremely painful.  As you know, this dream has been a passion and desire for over 17 years.  When I first applied to be a Chick-fil-A Operator, I was hoping to get a restaurant in Cedartown, my hometown.  However, you had a different plan.  You made me wait a few years then gave me a restaurant in Marietta after moving back home to Polk County.  I served you there for 9 years to the day, then you gave me the closest thing to the original desire of my heart, a restaurant in Rockmart.  It was a leap of faith because I was giving up a high volume unit for a lower volume unit, but it wasn’t about the money for me.  I trusted you and you have blessed me with a good business and an amazing team of leaders and team members.  I was content…for a while.  

It wasn’t long before the allure of a multi-unit opportunity in Cedartown became a possibility.  I remember praying somewhere along the way, “if this is not what you want for me, don’t let me have it…” but you know I didn’t really mean that.  I wanted it, you knew I wanted it.  For what reasons?  I say it wasn’t about the money, although the money would be nice and provided me with a false sense of security.  I think I wanted it for the influence, influence in my community, influence with more team members.  Is this just a nicer word for “power?”  That may be another death yet to come… 

But here’s where I am today, I know this is Your will for my life.  I know that even if it was due to someone’s lack of courage to make a decision outside the norm, this is your will for my life, but it feels like death.  It feels like someone has died.  Someone that I was close to and cared about has died.  And it feels like that because, once again, I have died.  

I came to the conclusion yesterday that it is not the death of the dream that I mourn, but in fact, it is once again the death of my performance and achievement persona.  As I wrote so eloquently on October 19th, 2018 while sitting on the toilet prior to speaking at the High Achievers Lifestyle of Achievement Global Summit.  My friend Morgan challenged me to write the epitaph for my “false self.”  So I wrote…

“He kept getting back into the ring, fighting the man he knew he could become…until it killed him”  

So many times I thought he was dead…but he keeps coming back, sometimes much weaker, but often in disguise.  So yesterday, as I’m driving up my driveway on the way home from work I asked you, “must I die a thousand painful deaths?”  I heard nothing…until I walked in the door.  All is quiet in my home…certainly, not the norm for a house with 7 children.  Apparently my family was upstairs working on schoolwork, all except Owen (my 3 year old son).  Little did I know he was on the prowl.  I placed my bag at the table and turned to walk toward the den to find out why the house was so quiet when I noticed a warrior standing in my way, complete with shield, sword and paw patrol pajamas.  His first word to me…”DIE!”  An epic battle ensued as he handed me Jack Sparrow’s pirate sword and we made our way into the living room.  After 10 minutes of intense combat, Owen had won!  Jesus you win. I’m tapping out for today…  

Your forever student, 



  1. Jeff

    Great share
    I as well have had the death of a marriage and hopes and dreams no longer redeemable, mostly due to my self inflicted relational destructive ways. God is teaching me the very same lesson in a different arena, the old man will never win,. I’m tapping out with you my friend, at least for today. Only 999 tap outs left to go

  2. Aaron Morris

    A fantastic epithet. Befitting H.W. Longfellow.

    Great job Zach.

  3. Tyler

    Great post & wisdom. The old, weak, sinful nature tries to crawl from the grave – even when we don’t notice at times. Why Paul wrote Gal 2:20 “Im crucified with Christ; it’s no longer I who lives, but Christ that lives in me…”