Friday, April 10, 2009

The Cross
The Eternal Agent of Change

And so the seasons change, bringing forth the revelations of a new world and the whispers of a kingdom. The old wineskins plead to remain and the new wineskins softly sing a new song. The sky looks dark, ever darker, and yet morning moves within her darkness. The eyes cannot see and the ears cannot hear, and yet the spirit rises to this morning that approaches without the evidence some demand.

The new heart hears music unplayed and sees glory unrevealed. Illuminated by faith alone the lone believer must succumb to its calling, wholly dependent upon the unseen promise of a life to come. Tethered to and yet free from here, the Christ traveler continues safe on this resurrected journey of faith. His missteps are woven into this journey by the wisdom of His Guide Who knows his plight and plans his way.

The victory hides in utter defeat, and the glory is covered in blood. Suffering is a step and persecution is a crown. Do not despair you pilgrims, the Lord of the Harvest will bring in His sheaves and reward His laborers far greater than they deserve. The King of All knows no slumber and has no weakness, and worry is foreign to Him. The end is the beginning, and the road to the City of God is paved with the branches of humility and love.

Trust not in the ways and words of men, but incline your ears to hear the steps of blind soldiers that carry out the divine will but who know not Who they slay. Who can separate us from this crimson covered act of love? If God Himself gives this kind of gift, what indeed will He withhold from those who receive it? This holy massacre reveals a love whose strength is without limits and whose length is without measure.

The grace that pours from these veins can and does cover the vilest among us, and this bloody shepherd knows who are His and answers not to the inspections of men. Walk through the door of faith once more, reacquaint yourself with His redemption, and you will find the room of grace without walls. Rejoice in His blood and revel in His sufferings for He has won. We have not won, He alone has risen victorious and we are made sharers in a victory that was not ours and a suffering that we had indeed caused.

Does it seem like a fairy tale to you? Oh, but it is! The story we tell today is a pitiful narrative told by sinful lips and finite minds. One day this fairy tale will vanish in the glory that cannot be described, and the reality will eclipse the fable. And on that day, in His glorious presence, we all will consider ourselves grateful fools as we see the ignorance of our best preaching, our best teaching, and our best understandings.

So do not despair, we play today in a sandbox of our own making, but one day we will be covered in the skin of glory which is Christ Himself, and we will be like Him. But until that day, let us keep looking forward together, to thirst and to hunger for that day, no, to thirst and to hunger for Him alone. He has made us one, with all our faults and misguided certainties; He has made us one…in Him, by the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection.

The event we commemorate today caught me unawares in 1975. I had grown up in a Lutheran church with my mother as choir director. I attended catechism for three years and was confirmed as a believing member when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was profoundly lost. To say I was a used rose would be demeaning to used roses. I was a disgusting rebel who set about to expand the boundaries of personal hedonism. I resist revealing the extent of my drug and alcohol use but suffice to say I am fortunate to be alive. Not content with consumption I sold drugs into the high school at age 20 through my senior high girl friend.

At 6′4″ and 220 pounds I was violent and intimidated everyone I could and rode my van and/or motorcycle through the community recognized by friend and foe alike. I have a police record as well. So during a street fight I was seriously injured and had to lay up at my aunt’s house to heal. It was there I saw Billy Graham on TV and in March of 1975 I was saved by God’s grace. When I returned to the community to face some lingering charges against me the entire courtroom was mesmerized at my appearance.

No longer the biker look, I now looked like some choir boy. By some miracle I was acquitted of these last charges, and I went to one of my former friend’s apartment where about 10 of my friends gathered to drink beer and smoke pot. In that setting I shared my faith and having been the absolute ringleader they all listened intently to my story. I pleaded with them to investigate Jesus Christ apart from formal religion and see if He is the way to life eternal and abundant. Later on several of my friends came to Christ while others went to jail or even died.

I cannot fully project in words the change that God brought in my life. Words fail to showcase the work of the Spirit. But I was a rose with no petals and with a broken stem. But even though I do not observe days, today most of the Christian world commemorates an event that saved my life forever. I must testify of the saving power of that cross. Argue all you want about this view or that view, but a profound sinner like me knew nothing of those arguments, all I knew was that Jesus was God’s Son and He died for my sins. I have preached about that cross, I have shared about that cross, I have written about that cross, and I have read about that cross, and it has never lost its newness, its luster to me.

I have nothing but that cross and it’s captive. All my so called literary prowess is just worthless bluster compared to the Christ and His cross. I stand naked of any good works against the work of that cross. I cannot but speak of that which reached down and rescued a rebel like me and allowed me to even speak of Him. I would not desire Charles Manson to speak well of me, and yet Jesus allows me, and is pleased to hear me speak well of Him. It is a spiritual dream to imagine who I was and who I am, and sometimes it would do us all well to take a respite from all the doctrinal squabbles and return to that simple day when God found us.

Call me what you will, point out my many compromises, identify my living inconsistencies, accuse me falsely and accuse me rightly of sin, to it all I embrace my guilt as I embrace my Savior. Today is the day in which I will live forever.

May the Lamb that was slain receive the rewards of His suffering!!!

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