From childhood we have a bent toward having things our own way. If our soul is not somehow ‘dethroned’, it will pursue a course of pride and selfishness, to its own harm. How can our hearts be overtaken by the power of the Living God?
For many years I understood that there was a cross where Jesus died, paid the price for my sin and brought me into relationship with the Father. We sing songs about and revere this exalted place of selfless love. His cross is the place that defeats sin. I really had no clue that there was a cross prepared for me.
In the Old Testament story of the Exodus, we watch Israel make two miraculous crossings. The first is from Egypt (a type of the kingdom of darkness— where we lived under the oppression of the ruler of this world) into the wilderness, through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. This ‘cross’–from death to life, is what takes place shortly after the blood of the Lamb is applied to each doorpost during the Passover. God is calling His people to Himself once more and begins a work of leading them through wilderness and law giving…to their appointed destiny, the Promised Land.
In the wilderness, Israel must once more learn dependence on their God, the way of faith, and the power and authority that only come through submission. ( It is interesting to note that in Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, those 40 years lie somewhere between verses 29 and 30…no mention of faith during this much heralded journey). The wilderness was not their destination. It was their learning environment to prepare them for their true home.
Approximately two years after that first crossing, The Lord brings them to the border of this new land. Twelve spies enter as forerunners to bring back a report about this new territory ( entire story can be found in Numbers 13:17-14:1-45). Instead of rehearsing the goodness of God to the people, the spies shrank in fear at their prospects, and sowed fear instead of faith. Israel forfeited an opportunity to cross, and went on a forty year camping trip instead.
Why do I share this episode in the history of Israel? It is similar to our own journey in the Kingdom. Once we have received salvation, the blood of the Lamb applied to the door of our own heart, we cross from death to life….and the waters of baptism complete this initial visual.
We begin a relational journey with our Father where we must learn to trust His provision, protection, and leadership. He wants us to move from the initial days of the wilderness, through the Jordan, into the fulness of our inheritance in Christ. But this Jordan is where we must recognize the second cross….the one prepared for us. Where the cross for Christ made everlasting payment for my sin, the ‘cross’ designed for me, at the Jordan, is the call to die to ‘self’.
Though I had received new life when I received Christ, I continued to walk by the strength of my own soul. Tutored by the law, I tried Christianizing my own strengths rather than dying to such self effort. I needed to recognize the daily opportunities that The Lord brought my way and die to ‘SELF’. I had to quit ignoring those small opportunities and avoiding the large ones. I needed to learn the way of identifying with His death and embracing my own.
Strength of soul can only take us on one more circle of the desert. True conversion takes place when we replace our old self-driven operating system with an utter dependence on the Third Person of the Triune God, who indwells us. Recognize the cross designed for your ‘self life’…..and cross over…. into the fulness of His Kingdom.