But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
Being in something’s shadow usually requires close proximity to it. A tree’s shade provides me relief from the sun only when I’m under it. Just the same, living in the shadow of the Cross involves surrendering myself beneath it.
The Cost and Shelter of the Cross
The Cross of Calvary stands as a gruesome pillar of torture and death—for Jesus as well as all who follow Him. It humiliates and breaks all who die there. Yet, it is the sole refuge of victory over sin’s costly penalty and tormenting control. At this cross, true followers of Jesus imitate Him by humbling themselves to its stigma and yielding individual will to its purpose.
Being crucified with Christ implies dying to self—the intentional subordination of personal desires for God’s righteousness. After such death to self, a Christian’s next accountability is living within the shadow of the cross. Christ said His followers deny themselves and carry the cross daily (Luke 9:23). When we do, we remain in its shadow.
I desperately need to live within the crucified shadow. It reminds me of my deliberate and complete surrender to God when I accepted what Christ accomplished there for me. Oh, but I also willingly bow in the Cross’ vacated shadow. It proclaims the victorious, redeemed, reconciled, and abundant life Jesus brought me.
Sadly, there are times when I abandon that dear shadow. My old, crucified nature revives just enough to urge me to live in my own strength and chase my own cravings. When I yield, I forsake the Cross’ safety and security, revealing myself to my spiritual enemy’s blazing glare.
When I limit my time with God, our intimacy of fellowship suffers. A sure sign of straying from the Cross’s shadow is when the world’s fast food replaces the feast of His Word. Each time I step away from the Cross, I risk vulnerability to temptation and spiritual assault. My only deliverance is to quickly return to the shelter of the shadow of the Cross.
Yes, the Cross is a place of self-less death and willful surrender. But it is also a place of reconciliation and new life. It bridges the gap that previously prevented me from God’s presence and now ushers me daily into His intimacy. Its shade shelters me in spiritual warfare; its power shreds sin’s penalty and enables me to overcome its control.
The Cross – place of personal surrender
By dying to self, I willingly deprioritize myself in favor of God, His desires, and His purpose. I acknowledge His preeminence and relinquish all rights to personal aspirations and desires. My sole desire is to please Him who has pursued and won my heart. “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Such surrender involves turning from everything but the wholehearted pursuit of The Crucified One. Since His love for me compelled Him to take my place on Calvary’s cross, my love for Him compels me to His side—in the shadow of the cross.
The Cross – place of reconciliation with God
Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
Calvary’s cross removes my eternal separation from God that my sin created. Through the righteousness attributed to me with my acceptance of Christ’s finished work, I stand boldly and completely justified before God the Father (Hebrews 4:16). Within the relationship only available through the Cross, peace has been restored, fellowship reconciled. Gratefully, I stand pardoned, never more condemned.
Along with my reconciliation with God comes the adoption into His family (Galatians 4:5). As such, my life bears the family resemblance. My lifestyle aligns with His moral standard. He renews my mindset with His Word and whispered thoughts. My passions and purposes pursue His leading and sovereign orchestration within my life. The ultimate goal is to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
The Cross – place of intimate fellowship
That I may gain Christ and be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:8-10). God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Intimacy in any relationship involves quality time together and mutual vulnerability. The effort emphasizes the importance. A mountain’s summit yields a view only reserved for those who struggle to climb it. Intimacy does not come easily nor does God force Himself on anyone. However, He promises to be found by those who seek Him with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). He rewards those who diligently crave His fellowship (Hebrews 11:6).
The more I seek God’s heart and the more I surrender myself to Him, the more intimate our fellowship. However, such intimacy with God is only possible by and through the Cross. Just as shadows lengthen at the close of each day, the Cross of Calvary casts a deeper shadow across the lives of those intimately acquainted with it. No sweeter intimacy exists than what I find in the shadow of the Cross.
The Cross – place of secret safety
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:1, 4-5).
Abiding in the shadow of the Cross is to take permanent residence there. It is a hedge of protection (Psalm 139:5) where nothing can reach me except what God sovereignly orchestrates (Ecclesiastes 7:14). I have no need to fear because His Word and Armor are my defense against unexpected adversity and unseen attack.
Only when I remove myself from the protection of the Cross do I make myself vulnerable to Satan’s direct assault. When I stray from intimate fellowship with Christ, from daily nourishment from His Word, and from surrender to His purpose, I place myself outside His protection. This shadow provides no shelter when I seek the pleasures of the far-off country of sin. Instead, He sours my circumstances bad enough to where I want to change my situation bad enough—and rush back to the safety of the shadow of the Cross.
The Cross – place of spiritual victory
Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin (Romans 6:6). For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:11).
The Cross infuses me with the living presence of Christ. The power to live the resurrected life comes from abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Maintaining ongoing intimacy with Jesus and living under the constant influence of the Holy Spirit gives me strength to walk freely in newness and abundance (John 10:10).
Outside the shadow, I am enslaved to sin. Within the shadow, I have freedom from sin and freedom to follow my risen Lord and Savior. The Cross unfetters me from my past, releases me in the present, and equips me for my destined purpose. Its shadow tunes my heart and mind to God’s whisper. It aligns my pathway with His journey. Abundant power and unmatched victory are mine only when I stay in the shadow of the Cross.
Oh, may we echo the words of Fanny Crosby’s song: “Jesus, keep me near the Cross!”
Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain,
Free to all—a healing stream, flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day, with its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, hoping, trusting ever,
Till I see my Savior’s face, leave His presence never.
Words: Fanny Crosby (1869)
Music: W. Howard Doane (1869)
Copyright – Public Domain