At the Cross

Last night, I pictured myself on the cross, and I fell even more in love with our Savior. Have you ever done this before, pictured yourself on the cross? It’s rightfully our spot, but Christ bore the weight of our sin for us. He hung on a tree and was crucified even though He was blameless.

Picture this with me for a moment.

You’re walking, but you’re barely picking up your feet. You feel heavy, heavier than you’ve ever felt before. You’re dragging a cross, your cross, the one you’re about to hang on. It’s weighing you down. You pause, take a breath. A whip cracks on you, making the pain you feel even worse. How can you carry on? You must, though you are marching to your death. You look down at your naked, bloodied body. Is it really you? Look left, look right. People yelling at you, cursing you, mocking you. Their words blur together, but you hear some of the lies. Unlovable. Damaged. Dispensable. Look ahead, there’s the hill on which you will die. It’s so close, yet so far. The sky is grey, the air somber. Must you keep going? The whips keep cracking, but then something changes. You hear the whips, but you don’t feel them. The words stop penetrating your soul. Look left again. There’s a man, dragging along beside you. His flesh is torn, he wears a crown of thorns. You feel light, then you realize you are no longer dragging your cross, but he is carrying yours, too. You recognize him, you know he’s blameless. Why is he here? He looks at you, and says, “I will carry you, all you need to do is ask.” 

Do you run the opposite way? Do you continue on to your death alongside him? What do you choose? 

You look around, the people are now inviting you, luring you with riches of the flesh.

You look at the man, considering carrying your cross alongside him, the cross that is rightfully yours. You hear the crowd turn against you as you look at the man. 

He offers more, a drink of water. “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

You look back at the people, tempted by them. But, you choose. You drink the water he’s offering. You take your cross from the man. The suffering begins again, but this time you feel unexplainable joy. You carry on to the hill, this man beside you. It’s your joy and honor to walk this path with him. To die with him. To give him the glory in your death, a death from hanging on the cross beside the man whom you love, the man who loves you. The nails, yes, they hurt. The thought of living in death hurts even worse. You know the riches for you are not of this earth, but in the kingdom of heaven.

This picture stuck with me all night. How could Christ possibly love me so much that he would walk this earth, suffer, and die on a cross, offering himself as the sacrifice for my sin? I deserve that death for my sin, yet all he asks of me is me. I have nothing to offer him except myself, my life, my service. I come to the cross with my arms stretched, hands open, because that’s all I have to offer: myself.

What about you?

At the Cross as performed by Johnny Cash

Alas and did my saviour bleed and did my sov’reign die
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

Was it for crimes that I have done he groaned upon the tree
Amazing pity grace unknown and love beyond degree

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

But drops of grief cannot repay the debt of love I owe
Here lord I give myself away it’s all that I can do

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

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My journey to “yes” … and “yes” again

It was a drizzly afternoon in mid-August and one of those days where things simply weren’t going as planned. I was conflicted about what I would do if I were invited to Connect Week for AIM. I wanted to go wherever God led me, but I also knew it would be devastating to my family.

“Father, lead me to a place where I am in full obedience to you.”

I went on a run in the drizzle, and no one was out considering the light rain. I was listening to a playlist I created that I use to remind myself of God’s love for me, and I started bawling. I was able to find a place to sit, and it was in that solitude where I broke and cried out to God. I repented of the part of me that struggles to serve Him, begging Him to make my heart to fully desire to follow Him wherever He leads me. Also during that prayer, I told Him that if He opens the door to go to Africa with AIM, then that is where I will go, no matter the sacrifice.

That was my “yes.” That was my full commitment to serving God with all of me.

There was freedom in reaching a point of being willing to sacrifice all, but I was still struggling. Would I even get invited to Connect Week? If I was invited, would I be able to actually carry through with saying, “yes?” What about this other potential Africa opportunity my friend had brought to my attention?

As you know, I was invited to Connect Week, and I said, “Yes,” to going.

But wait. What about this other opportunity I couldn’t shake out of my mind?

I continued pursuing preparing for Connect Week though books I was reading, booking my flights, and communicating with people on staff, but I was struggling. Why wasn’t I motivated to start fundraising? My heart wasn’t at peace with my decision, which was new.

“God, isn’t this where you are leading me? Why am I not motivated to keep pursuing AIM? Father, if this isn’t where you are leading me, please make another opportunity known to me, and let me know that I am supposed to pursue that instead of AIM, if that is Your desire.”

I watched a video from the organization my friend connected me with called Under the Same Tree. I broke down crying because the video was exactly my heart.

“Father, is this it? Is this where you are leading me?”

I met with the director of the organization and fell even more in love. Her organization seemed like my heart on a silver platter. It was exactly what I envisioned when working in Africa was first laid on my heart back in December. This was it. My heart was at peace.

“Thank you, Father, for fully knowing my heart. Thank you for revealing my sinful heart and leading me to repentance. Thank you for your grace and hearing the desires of my heart, as a Father would hear of his daughter.”

It was honestly kind of scary with carrying through to say “no” to AIM. I loved the people I had been communicating with and felt like I was letting them down, but I also knew without a doubt that God was leading me to Under the Same Tree (UTST). In it, though, I learned of the freedom of choice. God presented me with a choice of AIM or UTST, and for that I am thankful.

“Father, thank you for leading me through the journey of saying ‘yes’ to you, a journey that brought me to a place where I was willing to sacrifice all. Thank you for the freedom you brought in allowing me to say ‘no’ to AIM, and once again say ‘yes’ to following you towards UTST. Thank you for being a God who hears the cries of my heart and loves me enough to provide me with an opportunity that makes my heart sing.

“Thank you for being a God who sees me, a God who knows me, a God who hears me, a God who speaks to me, and a God who loves me.”