Does the Cross ask me to disappear?
I will say to the north, Give up! and to the south, Keep not back. Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth—Even everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, whom I have made.
Isaiah 43:6-7 AMP
You and I were created for God’s glory. That’s what He says in Isaiah. We were created for His glory. Humanity was never intended to live independent of God, scratching out a singular destiny apart from our Creator. The entire Bible is incredibly clear on this point. But it’s one thing to mentally assent to this truth, and quite another to walk it out. I struggle mightily in this area, and my resistance was recently made crystal clear when I cried out to God, “Don’t ask me to disappear!”
That’s what my heart fears most. That’s the death that I fear. I can’t bear the thought of becoming a faceless, formless entity with no individual worth. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” This is the life I ever seek to save. “Please, God, don’t ask me to disappear.”
What the Cross Looks Like
The Cross, by its very nature, comes to me on this ground over and over and over. Each Cross-encounter is deeper and harder, and in some ways, more terrifying. The longer I follow Jesus, the more He asks of me, not less. He is after everything that I hold dear and the further down His path I go, the brighter the Light shines on me, exposing the “life” that I would save. “Don’t ask me to disappear, God. Anything but that!”
For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who can annul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
Isaiah 14:27 AMP
I have encountered the wrath and judgment of our Sovereign God. I’ve come face to face with the vast nothingness that is life when I’m completely separated from God. I know what it is to see myself as God sees me…and to be stricken by it. I met Love and Mercy in that storm of terror, and my healing began the moment I feared God above all else. A huge part of that healing was Jesus making whole in me what had been shattered. In the glow of that new integrity, I said, “Don’t ask me to disappear. I’m finally intact! Please don’t send me back to broken.”
This is what the Cross looks like to me. This is the place of surrender. If my Cross is informed by my fear, which is formed by my wounds, which mark my greatest weaknesses, then to lose my life in this place really is gaining it. I have not disappeared, and God hasn’t asked me to, though I can’t explain the paradox. With every Cross, He increases and I decrease, but I do not disappear. In fact, it feels like I’m being seen more fully than ever before.
What the Cross Gives
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
The Cross comes to kill what I know and what I want and who I think I am. Jesus takes my ignorance and gives me wisdom. He takes my pitiful, mortal desires and gives me an eternal passion and purpose. He takes my weak, broken life and gives me His own indestructible Life and royal destiny. That’s waiting for me on the other side of every Cross, because that’s who HE is. But I only meet Him in all His shining splendor and outlandish Love when I walk out the death of the Cross He places in front of me.
“Please don’t ask me to disappear, Lord. I can’t bear it, but if it’s this or lose You, then okay. I say yes.”
The Cross does kill me, and I do disappear, but not the way I fear. The me that is crippled and wicked disappears. The me that belongs to Jesus, newly created and powered by Resurrection Life, can now be seen. He doesn’t ask me to disappear, though it often feels that way. No God, You asked me to die so that I can finally live. I thank Him for this confounding and beautiful paradox that sets me free by the cross.