After I wrote my last post on the Cross, I asked God, “Why isn’t the Cross (in all its forms) a more celebratory thing? And repentance, too, for that matter?” I mean, they result in true peace and joy and contentment. What’s not to like? Jesus did it for the joy, why don’t we?
Because of the joy awaiting Him,
He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Hebrews 12:2b NLT
And then I was reminded how little I thought of or liked the Cross – much less repentance – prior to my surrender to Jesus as Lord, and I also remembered why.
I never actually made it to the blissful reward because I kept getting up off the floor. I’d go only so far down the road of seeing, and then I’d say, “Right, that’s enough of that. I think you’ve done some good work today, Jennifer. We’re done now.” So basically I was experiencing the hard parts without the pay-off.
First of all, the initial agony of discipline was that I felt it as utter rejection. I was certain that since my sin of (fill in the blank with you-name-it) had been discovered, it was all over. They’d hate me. Who could forgive this? It was awful. And though I have been healed greatly of rejection, there is still that initial frozen moment of terror. But God is SO patient with me, and it gets better every time.
Then there’s the terrible stress of being torn between admitting the truth and defending myself. My little lawyer steps out of my mind-closet and begins vigorously defending/excusing whatever the Cross is coming for in my life. It is exhausting to fight the Cross, you know? You can’t let your guard down for a minute or it all unravels. But with every successive Cross-encounter, my lawyer gets less time to plead her case.
Now, once my lawyer was beaten and the truth was admitted, that’s when I used to stop. “Okay, I give up. I SAID this or I DID that. I’m sorry, and it’s over now.” I didn’t stay on the floor until He lifted me; I jumped up as soon as I was sure I KNEW exactly what I was on the hook for – no more. I don’t think I actually repented, in fact, I’m sure that I didn’t. What I did was experience deep remorse and then submit to behavioral training. BIG difference.
My first genuine repentance was followed by seeing Him for the first time. I felt clean, really clean, for the first time. I felt LOVED all the way down to my very cells for the first time. I could breathe, my head was quiet, my body relaxed and I knew what it was to be content. And the difference between that experience and all the times before was that I stayed on the floor. I stayed on the floor until He lifted me up.
Discipline was a rather wretched experience, because there was no real reward. At The Coming One conference in 2009, a dear man described this very thing as being nailed to a cross and then trying to get down before the crucifixion was finished. How much more agony to be half nailed and half hanging down, flailing and caught without hope of relief? That was me for a good, long while.
If there’s anyone reading this and finding these descriptions familiar, may God grant you grace abundant to do quickly what took me so long: stay on the floor.