After walking away from the cross at the center of the labyrinth, I began to reflect on the death I had experienced. (For previous entries in this labyrinth series, click here.) In some ways, this is like a tomb experience, one that comes after death but before the resurrection. It is a time of silence, of waiting, of isolation. You see, there is a lot of noise at the foot of the cross, and even more on the journey toward the cross. But once we have set that which weighs us down at the cross, the next part is not usually the experience of joyous victory and exaltation. I've found that after I die to something and give it over to Jesus that what follows is a haunting loneliness of waiting for the resurrection.
I'd rather go immediately to the resurrection part. I've found that most preachers jump to that part also. Resurrection victory is the stuff that will preach. However the time of the haunting loneliness that follows the death forms for resurrection life. When we try to jump straight to the victory part, it's to easy to relapse to the old patterns, the old stuff that we laid at the cross.
For instance, let's say that in meeting Jesus at the cross, you realize that you need to die to the approval of others. To walk in resurrection victory would mean that you are not concerned about what people think about you. However, if your life has been shaped by decades of living for the approval of others, then your thought patterns, your actions, and your feelings have been formed by this search for approval. You may very well have given it over to Jesus, but the next step is to learn how to develop new ways of thinking, acting and feeling that are not dependent upon others' approval. This "tomb" experience can feel very lonely. All of the things that you have depended upon the past are not there to lean on. And the new patterns are undeveloped.
This post took me a while to write because I needed to be out of control and allow the Spirit to re-form me and make room his resurrection life. The tomb experience is a formation of the Spirit experience. Notice the emphasis. This is the time of transformation by and of the Spirit, the mysterious inner working that is done in us, not that we make happen. This is not a control experience where I activate God in my life to enter into resurrection victory. My part is simple to allow the Spirit to work by make room for the Spirit to develop in me new capacities to walk out of the tomb and into the victory of the resurrection.
For the last post in this series, click here.