By Marilyn Schouten
Excerpt from "The Pursuit of God, God's Pursuit of Man" by A.W. Tozer
"Before all who wish to follow Christ the way lies clear. It is the way of death unto life. Always life stands just beyond death and beckons the man who is sick of himself to come and know the life more abundant. But to reach the new life he must pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and I know that at the sound of those words many will turn back and follow Christ no more.
Men crave life, but when they are told that life comes by the cross they cannot understand how it can be, for they have learned to associate with the cross such typical images as memorial plaques, & dim-lit aisles. They reject the true message of the cross and with that message they reject, the only hope of life known to the sons of man. The truth is that God has never planned that His children should live forever stretched upon a cross. Christ Himself endured His cross for only six hours. When the cross had done its work, life entered and took over. His joyful resurrection followed hard upon His joyless crucifixion. But the first had to come before the second. The life that halts short of the cross is but a fugitive and condemned thing, doomed at last to be lost beyond recovery. That life which goes to the cross and loses itself there to rise again with Christ is a divine and deathless treasure."
Don't you just love those words...."The truth is that God has never planned that His children should live forever stretched upon a cross. Christ Himself endured His cross for only six hours. When the cross had done its work, life entered and took over. His joyful resurrection followed hard upon His joyless crucifixion." Doesn't it bring a tear to your heart when you hear those words, that God the Father never planned that His children, you and I should live forever on the cross.....He took that upon Himself so that we did not have to....and He was there for 6 hours. After 6 hours of the joyless crucifixion; forever proclaimed....the joyful resurrection!!! Which to be honest is where we should be living....JOYFUL RESURRECTION!
You know, Pastor John spoke this weekend to the Matriarchs and our image as women designed by the Heavenly Father. I don't know how many times or in what service (if all) he spoke clearly to the women of the group and how we think that if our husband (boyfriend) loved us enough that they would "change" for us! You know, I have shared before that I was in that deep, deep hole for a number of years. John and I had a tumultuous relationship while dating and consequently a highly volatile first 12 years of marriage; though I could see a severe pattern of unacceptable behavior, I chose to ignore it thinking that He would change after marriage....it only got worse. Though I knew that the Lord was stronger, I did not let HIM be the strongest in me. I did not wish to walk through the shadow of death before experiencing life. I had experienced life prior to getting married, why would I choose to walk such a path to see that life again? But I distinctly remember crying out to the Lord in prayer, to make me a better wife and eventually a better mother, but I was unprepared for the revealing that needed to be done in me (death before life) in order for that prayer to be answered. You know, it's easy to give an account as to why we act or are acting the way we are, or why we cannot do the things in Scripture that are expected of those who call upon the name of the Lord....it's harder to say...."I want life, what must I DO to reach the joyful resurrection?" Tozer says the way is clear, we just choose not to walk it.
My Monday Thoughts are limited today, I just really wanted to focus on this thought from A.W. and how the Lord Himself endured those 6 hours on the cross....to provide us the most amazing grace of life abundant with joyful resurrection. If this is you: "the life that halts short of the cross is but a fugitive and condemned thing, doomed at last to be lost beyond recovery. Then call upon the name of God the Father, the creator of life, greet the Holy Spirit with an open and obedient heart and lay your 6 hours of the cross at the feet of Jesus....and become that life which goes to the cross and loses itself there to rise again with Christ as a divine and deathless treasure." That is the challenge for this coming week, lay the 6 hours of the shadow of death at the feet of Jesus and allow Him the opportunity to turn the joyless into the joyful.