This coffee mug was a Christmas gift from my Mother. The phrase on it spoke to me but I was not purchasing things for myself so put it back on the shelf. My mother had seen and surprised me with it. In case you can’t read it (I’ve had the mug for some years and it’s been through many washings), the phrase is “Each new wave rearranges the patterns in the sand so we can pretend our footsteps are the first”. I can’t tell you why this phrase spoke to me the way it did but, as the Holy Spirit has worked in me, opening the eyes of my heart to the truth of who Jesus is in me; I have garnered a deeper understanding of this phrase. Even though the Holy Spirit has been at work in God’s people for over 2,000 years, each revelation is new to me. When my eyes are opened to see, it’s a brand new discovery.
There was a time I used to read Matthew 27:46 where Jesus cries out “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” and thought I understood how He felt. There have been so many times when I’ve walked through such darkness I was certain God had forsaken me. I couldn’t hold that against Him though because He’d forsaken Jesus too so at least Jesus understood how I felt. This is a terrible belief to hold and I thank God He didn’t let me keep it for long. The Holy Spirit led me to Hebrews 13:5 where I read, and the Amplified translation says it best: “Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” While this passage is more about financial worries, this promise of God appeared to hold true for every aspect of my life especially when the verse 16 says “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
Here was a thought: If God promised to never leave nor forsake me, was my belief that He had forsaken Jesus mistaken?
I began to read the bible with this question in mind and saw Isaiah 53:4 which states, “surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him and afflicted.” This struck me. “Punished by God” is how I saw Jesus’ sufferings and death but this scripture appeared to tell me that wasn’t true. Then the Holy Spirit drew my eyes to 2 Corinthians 5:19 where Paul writes “…God was reconciling the word to Himself in Christ” and Colossians 2:9 which states “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” With these two passages ringing in my mind, I began to question my interpretation of Matthew 27:46. If I were incorrect and The Father had not forsaken His son, what did Jesus’ words mean?
Then came the day when the Holy Spirit answered that question. I was reading Psalm 22. I cannot count how many times I’d read it before and felt David’s pain but had NEVER realized what was going on. The opening lines of this Psalm are exactly Jesus’ words on the cross. I have read the writings of bible teachers who have said that every Jew within earshot would not have needed Jesus to say anything more. They would have known the Psalm in its entirety just hearing the first lines and would know exactly what He was saying. What was He saying?
Even though David wrote this Psalm hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, this entire Psalm is about Him. As the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to that truth, I read through the Psalm in dawning wonder. Passages leapt out at me. “He trusts in the Lord, they say, let the Lord rescue him” (verse 8) I found paralleled in Matthew 27:43. I discovered the horror and shame of crucifixion in verses 16-18 of the Psalm: “they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display, people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
I read David’s words and saw that they mirrored Jesus’ agony. I continued reading and knew for certain God had not forsaken Jesus on the cross for the Psalm itself declares Jesus was not forsaken in verse 24: “He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
The Psalm ends on a note of exultation. Verse 31 says, “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” The last words of the Psalm, “He has done it”, are exactly Jesus’ words when He cries “It is finished!”
I couldn’t believe it. It was like I’d never read the Psalm before. My entire mind was flooded with revelation and I had an entirely new bible. I also had an entirely new understanding of Jesus’ cry on the cross. I read the Psalm again and then went back to Matthew 27 to read the entire passage. And then I read it again because I finally saw what Matthew’s gospel was saying. Jesus’ cry on the cross was not a cry of agony at being abandoned by God. Rather, it was a shout of triumph. Even when the situation looks as bad as it possibly can, my God shouts His triumph.
This was a brand new discovery for me and the Holy Spirit and I delighted in it together. I felt like I’d been the only one ever to have seen this to be true even though, at the same time, I knew I could not be. Indeed, I am not the first nor will I be the last but it doesn’t matter. I delight in my seeing. Those who have already seen share my delight and I have an equal share in the delight of their having seen. Even though many have walked the shoreline of this particular revelation, the Holy Spirit made the sand smooth so that I felt my footsteps were the first. He makes it smooth again once I’ve passed so that another can discover Him for the first time.
*All scriptures are quoted from the Amplified and NIV translations.