If you haven't read yesterday's post, start there. This is one of those things where I'm progressing, or building on a theme. Christ calls us to go in two directions at once - to be the saved only because we are the sinner - and this pulls us in two directions, not unlike Christ Himself as He was crucified on the Cross. This stretching pulls us toward a place of death.
A death which is necessary if we ever hope to live.
Once we find ourselves in this situation, once we have been drawn in both directions, once we have stretched and reached as far as our fallen flesh will let us, there are still two more things we must do. I will discuss one of those today (and the other, you might have guessed, tomorrow).
The first is something I don't think we give Jesus enough credit for. It's the part of the Cross that we sort of skip right over, and yet, for those of us who bear a burden every day, it is one that cannot be overlooked. Between the moment Christ gave Himself to the Cross and the breath where He submitted to it, He was doing something very important:
He was hanging on.
Clearly, He had no choice. There were a few pesky nails that eliminated any other option, but for several hours, there He was. Just hanging on.
Hanging on is a critical time. It's that space between stretching and surrender. You've been drawn as far apart as you can be, pulled in two opposite directions, trying to learn to embrace both. For Jesus, still loving the sinner on His left and the one on His right. Torn between two extremes. On the one hand, this; on the other hand, that; from both hands, bleeding. Feeling the ache and the pain in your body. Feeling the tension. And choosing to stay.
Nails or no nails, choosing to stay. This is where most of us run. This is where we exercise our sovereign authority, our free will, and pull ourselves down. This is where we reflexively save ourselves from the Cross. We can't stand this tearing, so we tear ourselves down.
There's something special happening here, though, and it's what we so often miss out on when we're too quick to step down instead of hang on. It's the time we need to figure out what it feels like to really believe in God. To really trust Him. To be a little bit less ourselves and a little bit more His.
Some say that God's work on the Cross was done when Jesus died there, but that's only when it was finished; God was doing His work on the Cross while Jesus hung there. The revelation was already unfolding. It was being revealed in this sacred space where a Man is becoming God's.
We don't put enough emphasis on becoming these days. We don't have much patience for the process. We want faith, like we want all things in life, to be a before and after, a yesterday and today. We want it to be a moment, a blink of the eye, a flip of the switch. We want to be fallen, sinful, sorry men and in the next breath, be wholly, fully redeemed. And life doesn't work that way. Faith doesn't work that way. God doesn't work that way.
Sure, there's redemption and in one sense, we are redeemed from the very breath we speak faith. But in the more real, tangible, everyday-aching kind of way, this whole life is a process of faith. We are always in a process of becoming. We are, for most of our lives, hanging on.
Don't be so quick to overlook this season of your life, this hanging on. It's agonizing, sure, but something beautiful is happening here. Something incredible is happening here.