It seems that every time I have been alone this week, which hasn’t been often, I have had a lyric fest in my head…lyrics about the cross…I find myself singing in my imagination like Karen Harding, or Karen Peck….or some Karen that sings like Celine….the luring melody of the songs of the church.
“Then a stone moves, the Earth shakes….birds start singing,
the sun shines, the Earth warms…new life it’s bringing; a little boy stops crying, a mother is smiling, for death could not hold their King” rolling over and over in my busy brain.
“There was a cross made for the Son of God at Calvary.
Two pieces of rough timber on a hill.
Through His hands and through His feet,
He took the nails for you and me.
Angels watched as He died for the lost.
Though He could have walked away He chose the cross.”
I can hear the kids singing this in my head…without headphones, or a CD….just simply the recall of the memory, the staggering truth that is depicted here. For everything I claim to be, hope to be, every fiber of this ___ lbs. and 5 feet 2 inches is instantly “alive” when I hear these songs. Tears are automatic. It is honestly borderline embarrassing. Am I the only one? When the reality of my mortality is recognized I cry like a baby. It happens a lot….in restaurants, and the server always thinks that Steve and I are having a fight.
There is much that I could have discourse about that would address the atheistic movement in this country, the lack of attack that atheists have on Muslims, (they don’t want to be blown up and know that Christians will turn the other cheek)……the secularists movement…I could write all night and NOT begin to cover the major points of a bias against us, the Christian…the Christ follower, the believer, and ultimately they battle the cross, always our symbol, always their battle. For this is the week that we are mocked, told that our intelligence is low or we couldn’t believe this fiction, we are scoffed as hillbillies and a low class demographic. That’s okay. Let them say whatever they want to say. I know how this story ends, and I know that the end is near. 200 million people are suffering some sort of persecution world wide for their Christian stand as I write this. 200 million now….in 2014. I am not persecuted…not much anyway. Like most of you, my philosophy is entrenched in the DNA of my blood. I expect the return of Jesus. That is non-negotiable in my belief story line. He is coming, for us….the bride, the righteous. But let’s get back to Thursday, and Friday. I am operating under the assumption that we all know that this may or may not be the exact week of the crucifixion. However, I am operating under the assumption that this isn’t an argument.
This is the week that we are choosing to celebrate our Lord. The man that went to pray….as His sweat became as blood. He knew. He knew you, He knew me….He knew how rotten we are…He knew that we would be selfish, mean, spiteful, materialistic….He knew we would abandon our children, cheat on our wives/husbands, fall to perversion…He knew we would steal and murder…sometimes just for fun. He knew. He knew that we would beat our children, rape them, judge our neighbors, and yes….struggle with boundaries, judgement, and yes even food…and drink…and shopping…and JEALOUSY…and gossip and worshiping many things besides Him. He knew us intimately…..more intimately than our spouse knows us.
“He knew me…yet HE loved me….He whose glory makes the heaven shine…so unworthy…of such mercy….when He was on the cross, I was on His mind.”
He could have left the garden and snuck off to the country side…or the sea…He could have walked away. He could have refused to surrender those hands, the same hands that had created the heavens and earth…remember He told us that He could have called twelve legions of angels. He was not a hostage…he was willing. He could have left us empty and thirsty. He could have walked away….but, He didn’t. He provided us with the plan to live in His fullness, and die in His presence.
Truly, this is more than I can fathom, and I don’t claim to be a scholar. Actually, I make no claims to anything…except the “I know that I know” obvious. I am not positive what God will say to many of the difficult questions: Why do we have horrific heartbreak, why do babies die, why are good people sick and mean people well, why are the wicked prosperous and sometimes good people starve. Why, why, why?? Well I could handily quote a few scriptures right here….about how it “rains on the just and the unjust” and “it’s appointed to man once to die”….and on and on. But that is the small stuff. This trip to the cross is the big thing. That bloody body hanging on that cross provided the answers for our lives here, and there. Period. Done. He is the answer. Sick? Well? Rich? Poor? Eternity doesn’t give “get out of jail free” passes. Eternity knows no color, age, gender, income tax brackets, intelligence level….when the last breath is appointed, you’re finished. You will face the “forever” of your choices. Is he a Savior of all? You bet He is. Does He love all…you can bank on it. If you know Him, you are different…in a “hopeful” kind of way. If you don’t know Him, you’re eternally lost. That’s what the Bible says.
To quote my daughter Kelly, “When I was lying on a stretcher on I-85 and my middle child is being air lifted with massive blood loss, and a blood pressure of 60 over 30, and my husband who has a serious brain bleed and injury, is unrecognizable…and to the human eye, in that moment of carnage the odds look bad for his survival…when I was lying on my back, looking up into that North Carolina sky at two life flight helicopters with my baby and and the love of my life each in those helicopters, I know that something is SO wrong with my back, I don’t realize yet the severity of the break, but I am painfully aware that I can’t walk….the bus is destroyed, the sirens, ambulances and helicopters are deafening….to the ear….that Holy Ghost that has been my song for 20 years, that message of faith that we have spent countless hours talking about..suddenly became the comforter that assured me that “He” had this. If I never saw them living and breathing again….if this day changed my life forever, I would lean on the redemption of the cross….because that is our hope, our only hope.”
While the world is looking for answers, we know the road that leads to eternal life, while the world tells us we are insignificant, we know that we are royalty, while the weakest of us are sustained, the thirstiest are quenched, the wounded are healed, and the dirty are cleaned…..that Friday…that Friday when the earth shook, the darkness hovered….I am sure the hearts of those that loved Him wondered….would light ever return, would the world forever be black? But it wasn’t to be…the darkness turned to light, and then that curtain in the temple…torn, from top to bottom…forever to remind us that ALL of us are candidates, all of us.
When you truly comprehend the change “this” particular Friday brought to humanity, you may cry in a restaurant, or you may cry when you walk in the nursing home and hear that 89 year old, trembling…pushing out a whisper, that used to be a good low baritone, “On a hill, far away….stood an old rugged cross”……you may get those Holy Ghost bumps when you lower that friend into the ground after that long battle with lung cancer…….for the foundation of the Christian faith, this 2,000 year old story that can’t be muted or disputed, became our heritage, our DNA was birthed on that bloody cross, for there my soul found liberty. It was there that ALL hope was born. The cross is the birth place of hope. That dying man is actually just starting his life…when Jesus died, he paved the road for us…the road from here to there….from pain, disease, trauma, burns, abuse, cancer….that final road, that ALL of must walk, he paved it and made it easy….that Friday gave us eternity. Easy, simple, available, eternity. There are no pre-requisites. You don’t have to be “born” into it, or study for it. That Friday cemented John 11:26 “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Yes, he made this my heritage, and my future. He made it the hope of generations that have been, and generations to come. For in fact on that Friday, Jesus changed the world forever. The enemies of the gospel have tried to get rid of the church for 2,000 years, and currently the enemy is raging…..but after that Friday, when the perfect lamb hang between heaven and earth, and was the sinless sacrifice for me, and you, we are here to stay. We will work until HE comes. We won’t die. We will believe, and go to church, and sing our songs, and worship HIM who loved us…we will read, study, and shape our lives for this gospel. We will let it breathe life into our hopeless mornings, speak encouragement to our sick bodies, reprove us when needed, and always guide us through a weary land that becomes less comfortable with “us” every day. We the radically saved, the “laying on of hands” crowd……the “pray for the lost in Wal-Mart” crowd….yea, we do that….but this “church” that tarries for now, will work until HE comes. We will work smarter, harder, and know that eternity is at stake for ALL that miss this message. Yes, that’s what we believe.
So as we celebrate Good Friday, let’s remember that our freedom is based on this day. It is like our spiritual 4th of July. Without Friday, there is no Sunday. So don’t despair, don’t despise the blood…don’t deny the truth of the work that was finished….and you non-believers, remember if you’re wrong and I am right…..if there is nothing to this cross story…..if we just die and that’s it. The end. I lose nothing. I lived a good moral life based on the principles of the Bible. However, if you are wrong…..if this story of a man that let them beat him to death, put spikes in him, spear his side…all the while with the ability to stop them…if this story that the atheists call “fairy tale” material is true….if you MUST believe to have eternal life and avoid a hell of torment, if this is true….this gospel that we STAND on and believe with every molecule in us……is true, you my friend….you will be sentenced to a devil’s torment in hell, forever if you reject Jesus. Time is short. He gave His life, no one took it, He redeemed us. WE are free!!! That hole in your soul can only be filled by Him. Let Him love you like only HE can. Let the cross be your new story, and your new glory!!!
Fridays are game changers, truly!!!!! HAPPY FRIDAY!!!