GRAVITY by W. Calvin Ross
Gravity had been clawing at him for hours….
The dingy splinters of the beam at his back scratched like a cat’s claws into the fresh wounds from the morning’s flogging. He tried to keep his weight slung between the ropes around his biceps, but with each twist of his arm, the bones in his forearms ground in nauseating resistance against the thick nails that were driven between them. He longed for the ground, to feel the dust and rocks beneath his tired, throbbing feet. He ached for the ease of moving and walking and breathing.
His stomach turned….
He didn’t think he could bear another push, but he….
Knees shaking and eyes fixed on the darkened heavens, he groaned and thrust himself up against the nails in his ankles and took in a gasping gulp of air. He immediately sunk, his naked body slapping with all its weight against the wood. He began to weep, sputtering in pain and desperation. This cup was too much to drink. He was drowning in the apparent will of the Father in whose love he’d so recently been absorbed, love that had driven him through years of rejection and confrontation and the inevitably of this moment on this cross in front of these people who only wanted him for what they could get out of him.
The word crept into his mind like the smoke of a new fire.
It caught in the tinder of his thoughts and set his consciousness ablaze, drowning out the pain, drowning out the mocking, drowning out the tears. The people he’d healed were gone. The people he’d shared meals with were gone. Most of his followers and companions were gone. Here he was, hanging from a God-forsaken tree, just another victim of the manipulation and violence he’d come to shepherd these people away from. He felt the venom of the surrounding darkness seep into his veins and spread directly to his gut.
“My God! MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?!”
The words robbed him of everything he had left to give. He gave himself over to gravity and the weight of his words. He hung there and stared into the rocky patch of ground that lay just beneath the reach of his tired, bloodied feet. This road had been long. He was tired. But surely it had been for something.
He rested his head on the beam at his back and gazed into the darkness that surrounded him. His fading consciousness shifted between fragments of beautiful memories, of the triumph of love and healing and wholeness – of shalom. He would drink this cup dry.
“I’m thirsty….” he whispered.
A guard at his feet stirred and lifted a sponge full of sour wine for him to drink. He sucked a mouthful out and choked it down as best he could, then looked at the faces in the gathered crowd.
His words trailed off. His eyes closed.
“Father…. to your hands…. I entrust my spirit.”
As his prayer drifted into the blackness around him, it took his last breath with it. Gravity finally claimed his body, and he hung lifeless on the wood and ropes and nails.
In that moment, it seemed like it had all been for nothing. The preaching and the baptizing and the healing and the feasting. The people he had healed and raised from the dead would get new illnesses and die new, more final deaths. This alleged messiah had offered so much hope, and he’d been cut down by the ones who stood to lose the most from his just and equitable reign. He’d lost his life in darkness, and now that very darkness seemed to have won out over everything.
His mother and the few followers who remained with him claimed his remains and put him in a borrowed tomb. The dreams of better days were buried with him; buried with guards posted outside to make sure they stayed buried forever.
But the thing about this Jesus, the Father whose love he came to show, and the hope and love and grace and beauty that radiates from them: nothing can stop them from resurrecting and starting their reign over something new and more whole. No tomb, no cross, no scheme, no death, no illness, no addiction, no sin, no slip-up. NOTHING can stop this Jesus. Anytime it feels like the story’s coming to an end and the good days are long gone, he’s there resurrecting, making something new, and claiming his loving reign over it all.
So, when you’re hanging on that cross, whether it’s the cross of a life-altering diagnosis or a flare or a hospital stay or anything that seems like the end, know that God isn’t off somewhere putting whatever it is on you for whatever reason. He’s hanging there with you, suffering with you, because that’s the extent of His love. He came down as a man, suffered everything as a man, because he loves you and wants to relate to you and guide you through your pain and into some beautiful and new. Parts of your story will definitely come to an end, but it’s your story and your story is part of His story and His story is always new and better than you ever thought possible. You just have to look for the narrative He’s weaving, lean into it, and share it with anyone who will listen. Your resurrection is coming. Your resurrection is here. Claim it and then help other people claim theirs.