Sunday, April 12, 2009


Whenever I hear a speaker broach the topic of "the woman's role" in marriage, my chest usually involuntarily tightens up a bit. It's nowhere close to the way it used to be, when I would actually become physically ill in a matter of seconds. Blame it on being reared in a church club that preached female subservience or just the fact that I resented being a woman for most of my adolescence and young adult life; convinced for the most part that God had given me the short end of the stick, so to speak.

Eventually, He did enough work in me that I was able to embrace my femininity but it wasn't until He hit me with a particular revelation that I was able to sit through any kind of Ephesians 5 sermon without having a mild panic attack.

A good friend of mine thought Easter time might be a great time to post this tiny and yet profound bit of revelation. And I think she's right. (You're so quick, Shawna =)

It was one fateful summer day, as I wrestled with this whole concept of women being the "weaker sex" and the injustice of it all, when my Jesus offered an interesting observation to me. "Have you considered that I'm only asking you to do exactly what I have done?"

He reminded me of Paul's letter to the Philippian church, when he says that Christ "did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." (Chapter 2 in Philippians is, by the way, quite a wonderful section to read if you're wrestling through any of these issues.)

You see, Jesus, our example of exactly how incredible and powerful and effective and intimate our lives could be, shows us that the way to get there from here is to let go of all our rights. Every last one. Do not grasp onto your right to anything. He, the King of all Kings, bowed down low and submitted to US. Does that make you twitch a little? Do you remember Him donning a servant's towel and washing the dirt and dung from his disciples' feet?

Jesus let go of everything He "deserved" to have. He leaned down low and lifted us up, pushed us forward into our destiny as children of God. This is the pure definition of "submission" ~ from a place of lowliness, to raise another above yourself; raise him or her up and establish them in all their potential and promise and destiny.

Forget about squabbling over who is weaker or who has more authority or who has more of a voice. This is all a waste of time. This high calling to which we have been called is to be like the One who was, in fact, obedient to the point of death, even the humiliating death on a cross.

Do you see? This is the upside down Kingdom of God, here on earth. In order to walk in the fullness of your authority and destiny as an anointed child of God, you must follow Christ's example. This involves submission and humility and surrendering all of your rights to anything.

I am convinced that, the degree to which we have surrendered is the degree to which we will experience intimacy with God and authority and power from on High to accomplish His good purposes in our lives. From this place of submission, there will be no question as to the authority that operates in our lives. It will not be contrived or announced or forced on anyone! It will be obvious.

I said to a friend once, who was incensed at the idea of women in ministry, preaching to men, "I don't know the answer to whether the Lord has called me to minister to men and women alike, or to clean toilet bowls. Of one thing I am certain, my life is submitted to Him, and whatever it is He will have me do, I will do it, because my life is not my own. I was bought with a price. By His grace, wherever He leads me I will go."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is the Cross Anyway?

Since a couple of dear friends totally messed with my theology and basically set the whole thing ablaze a couple of years back, I found myself pondering the most elementary questions of my faith. Now approaching Easter, I was struggling with the answer to this question, posed by my almost-seven-year-old. "Why did Jesus die for me?"

After discussing the matter at length with my best friend, I felt Papa shed a little light on the subject.

Picture a starting point. The Garden of Eden. Paradise lost. We are communing with God. We are given free choice. We choose independence.

From that point, we begin to part our ways. God continues on His perfect path, and we set off on our . . . well, imperfect path. The place we were never meant to go. "Trespassing" where our feet were not created to tread.

Now picture these paths looking something like the letter "V" ~ our path growing gradually further and further away from His. Now, for anyone who wants to go back to Him and walk with Him on His path, they will need a Bridge. They cannot cross the chasm on their own.

God has the answer. And the cross is the only way.

Rather than think of the cross of Jesus as being the picture of God's wrath being unleashed on His son to appease His anger, what if we looked at it like this: The cross is the picture of God Himself crossing over to our independent path and taking upon Himself every consequence of every sin (independent act) that had been committed or ever would be committed (remember the path only gets further and further away from Him.) What if this was about Jesus, Almighty God, rising from His throne, taking off His magnificent robe, setting His eyes like flint, and entering wholeheartedly and unreservedly into the most gruesome and horrible fate imaginable, taking upon Himself all of the consequences that would ever lie ahead of us on our own independent journey away from God.

In that instant as He cries out, "IT IS FINISHED," a fiery path is cut from one path to the other and a bridge is made for whosoever will accept His gift. He cries out, "you do not have to see how this story ends. You do not have to suffer under the unavoidable consequences of your choice to live independently from Me. You do not have to suffer that pain. Accept that I have suffered it in your stead. Lift your foot. Walk across my bloodied back. I have lain myself out as a bridge for you. Re-join Us on the path that you were always meant to walk."

Never again can we raise our fist to God and say, "you don't know! You don't understand!" For He did not ask us to suffer the consequences of our choice for independence alone. Instead, He came here and suffered right along with us. In fact, He took every consequence of every bad choice upon Himself. We can look at His face and see His passion and know that we are never alone and that we have seen the face of a love that has conquered death for all time.

So I looked at my almost-seven-year-old and said, "Jesus died on the cross so that we wouldn't have to pay for our choice to be separate from Him. He paid so we could come back home." And this time I knew a little bit more about what that meant.
*painting above by Judy Ross*