What can I say about Jenny? Plenty. Since meeting her, she's been nothing but a constant source of encouragement. When I got back from Africa, I counted on her e-mails to reminding me of her prayers. Her I understands were priceless in a moment where I had difficulty determining my next steps after such an emotionally exhausting trip. She knew, and she stepped in when I needed her most. Over the next two days, she'll share about her dying place, and how through her walking the valley she found life. 2006 was a dying year for me.
A death of all that I knew and held dear. A death of identity, dreams, hopes, and goals. A death of who I was and who I thought I wanted to be.
God took me to the Dying Place to unearth places in my heart that wailed for healing. He did this so that He could render me re-defined.
Six long years I limped along dragging my heart behind me after a divorce that was the result of adultery and domestic violence. I thought I was already dead, but now God was beckoning me into the Dying Place.
He wanted me to die willingly.
Theologically I understood this concept:
We lift high the cross so that the un-constrained power of the resurrection is released.
It is about death giving way for life.
I know I know… 2 Corinthians 5:17 and all that. I get it.
God knew I did not get it.
In my dying year I hung out on my cross, peddling my pain for everyone to gawk at. I stopped living and chose instead to landscape my cross and refurbish its hinges. It was rusty from wear and needed a different color of paint.
So I busied myself with redecoration.
I did not fully understand the purpose of the Cross in my dying year because when I look back I see that my death was the only thing being glorified.
The dying place taught me that it is not just about taking up your cross and stopping there and camping out. The dying place is about following Christ. See, Christ picked up His cross and walked.
He kept walking… up the hill…
He did not stop until He reached the place of His final death and it was there that He laid down His cross and allowed it to be taken up again and planted in the ground.
It was in this final place of planting on the hill of Golgotha where spectators preened and fussed, gawked and gossiped as Christ experienced His Dying Place.
Death must have a final destination and a final planting.
We all need to be able to point to that place of final death and say It is finished.
Christ participated in His dying and allowed the Dying Place to be public, witnessed so that we could remember this place too.
The Dying Place. The place where the cross was planted. The place where Christ died.
Such was my year.
My death became so public that everyone witnessed it.
God did not call me to stop and hang out on the cross. He called me, like Christ, surrender to the final death at the Dying Place.
To surrender my self-effort and striving that mimicked real living. To surrender to being hung, in full view of those whose opinions mattered to me. To surrender to my identity being stripped as the outer shell of who I was is beaten, cracked, crushed, and destroyed in the ground, on the hill, where the cross is lifted up.
I began to stop sensing the constant craving that searches out new streams of life that were not God
I stopped trying to find the gasps of air and water that kept me alive I exhaled I stopped trying to breathe on my own
Then my lungs collapsed, my mind went blank, and my heart stopped beating.
All of my dreams, my plans, and my desires cease to exist. They died with me in the Dying Place.
This is typically where the church picks up and goes home.
But for the great crowd that followed Christ up the hill to witness His death, only a handful were still around at the tomb three days later.
Everyone had given up and gone home, proclaiming the Dying Place as final.
Here is where the people stopped Here is where the church stops Here is where we usually stop at the death of who we were