“Come on a journey with me.” Jesus spoke to my heart. He didn’t tell me to, but I lay on the floor face down with my arms stretched out in front of me. This has become my most comfortable position before the Lord, because it expresses my heart; a heart of surrender and reverence to the Lord of my life who has brought me through so much. He has done so much more than saving my life, He has given me life. Prostrate on the floor I was lower than all other distractions in the room and in the best position to receive.
Before too long, in my mind’s eye, I began to share in Christ’s experience of the Cross. The vision began with the first nail to the hand and continued on as I was given a taste of the pain and agony He had experienced. Granted, there is no way I could possibly know the true horror of the pain, it would be more than this human could bear, as just this taste of it had caused my spirit to writhe and shake in anguish. He zeroed in on various parts of His body, as if magnifying them before my eyes, while I looked on. It was as if witnessing first-hand His face, oozing blood, where chunks of flesh were missing; the beard having been literally ripped out of His skin. Blood was running in trickles down his forehead where thorns had pierced His skin. I could feel pressure in my feet as they pushed down against the metal stake run through. My neck felt the stretch and pain as I watched His head loll against His chest, for His body no longer had strength to hold His head up. An utter sadness came over me, as I realized that I had been the one that hung Jesus there. My sin joined the race of mankind, for I had been no better than they. I would like to think that I wouldn’t have caused this, but a sin is a sin to the Lord and they all had to be paid for. He paid the ultimate price for me and for you. I cried out in my heart. “Oh, Lord Jesus forgive me.” “Please, forgive me.” He already has and I know this, but there was such a need to express what was churning inside my heart. No other words were appropriate. How can anyone not receive such an unselfish and heroic sacrifice? How can you be indifferent to such a price paid for your soul?
When I thought I could bear no more, the vision turned to observe a centurion soldier standing with his sword in hand. He was glancing down at it, as the sun glinted off the shiny steel blade. A third of the sword, toward the tip, was coated in thick red blood. He held it pointed to the ground and stood looking at it with a stunned look of shock on his face, as the realization must have just hit him of this horrific thing he had done. This was the sword that had pierced Jesus’ side. This was the sword that drew the blood from the Savior of the world. This was the blood that was poured out for you and me.
The journey continued on to a sepulcher in an open field. It was rounded in shape, but completely gray and almost like a shapeless mound; something a child would form out of a huge lump of clay. It stood in this open field all by itself, with the exception of three fences made of jagged sticks that ran into a point at the grave site. There was snow on the ground and a wicked, bitter wind was blowing skiffs of snow against the tomb. It looked very gray, empty and desolate. The vision paused and left me there for a long time. There was such sadness in my heart, as I looked upon this lonely grave. I didn’t really put any thought into it, but just looked on and felt the emptiness, as I experienced the cold and wondered when it would end. The vision then changed to a path that led from the grave and, as I followed it, the field left off behind me; the fences were no longer there and I realized I was on a sparsely tree lined path. The path consisted of about 6 inches of sand above hard packed earth, enough to make walking difficult and, in my wearied state, it felt as though I were dragging through it. I noticed that the trees and sand were all the same color, sort of a beige or tan. No other color was seen until I reached the end of the path. In the distance, to my right, I could see a pristine lake of a beautiful shade of blue and on it were many sailboats sporting colorfully striped sails. All of my life I have dearly loved water but, in this experience, I felt indifferent to it as if it had no relevance to me in my life. I was exhausted from my long trudge in the sand and, emotionally spent. I had nothing left to give, not even able to react to the beautiful sight that I could see, as if nothing really mattered anymore. Wearily looking off the end of the path, I could see nothing more beyond. I stood there almost shapelessly for a few minutes and realized that the sand was my journey of suffering, and though I have known great joy and have known wonderful peace, what I remember most vividly of life is suffering. There has been a constant progression of spiritual growth, but time and again I always come back to the path of sand, the journey of suffering; a time of winter in my life. As I stood there taking this in, only one thought came to mind and so I expressed it. What now Lord? What is there beyond suffering, for it seems to be all I know; what else is there?
Consumed in the vision, I had almost forgotten that I was in a meeting; for it had all taken place while others were worshiping the Lord. As they worshiped Him, I too was in deep fellowship with Him, but of a different sort. Lying there on the floor, I listened as the praise and worship slowly died down and all became quiet. It was a time of tranquility before the Lord. The contentment of His presence settled heavily upon the people. Many times I have felt His presence as a weight, and sometimes it was represented as a cloud. I have indeed experienced many different manifestations of the Lord and in this I am not alone, but if you have not found this to be so in your life, ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you. He is so vast; there is always more if we are willing and look to Him with an open heart. Just make sure you are seeking the Lord and not opening your heart to the manifestation of a wrong spirit.
I continued to lie there feeling as if pasted to the floor. My body felt leaden and all emotion had been spent on this reality-like vision that had left me shaken and exhausted. Too weary to rise and still caught up in thought over what I had experienced, I lay there only half aware of what was going on in the room. However, I soon became fully alert when a man stood up and shared a vision he too had experienced during the time of worship. He related that he saw a woman riding in a canoe. She wasn’t using a paddle, but was kneeling in the bottom of the canoe as it carried her along in the current of a river. He said her arms were raised upwards, as if in surrender. The group listened to this recount and then a leader asked if anyone felt they had an interpretation of it. Various thoughts came forth and as I listened quietly I knew. Struggling to my feet in an extensive effort to recover strength, I said. “I think it is the answer to my question.” And then, with tears leaking from my eyes, I proceeded to relate to them the very graphic vision that I had just endured. “Surrender is the answer to the journey. It is the given path to what lies beyond.”
It is easy to surrender, but remaining in a state of total surrender is difficult. It seems that no matter how many times I make the effort to surrender to the Lord, I often find myself taking matters back into my own hands again. Maybe that is why my life has been full of trials, because I have yet to learn the art of true surrender.
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Is. 53:10-12
“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” St. Mk. 15:37-39 KJV