It was 1,980 years ago today that Heaven’s greatest gift was given. 1,980 years! He should have come back by now… long ago. And why hasn't He? The answer struck me between the eyes. Because we still don’t get it. We live our lives and somehow we still act as if the world revolves around us. Our plans, our dreams, ourstuff, our rights. So often we just don’t see the big picture. It’s nothing to do with us. It’s all about His glory, and the knowledge of His name. There’s still people out there who have never even heard His name. And we carry on living our lives. The clock ticks on.
I know that for me the story of Calvary can often seem more like a fairy tale than a reality. I just can’t grasp it’s magnitude. But then there’s those moments when I can almost see it happening before my eyes. Yesterday was one of those. Father and I were putting up a counter in our utility room and I was holding the board while he drilled the screws. One of those “I’d better keep my hands out the way… that drill would really hurt” thoughts flashed through my head. And before I knew it I heard His gentle voice…
That’s what they did to My hands.
Oh Jesus! To think I’d ever be afraid to do something for You! I stood there holding that board, hearing the deafening sound of screws being ground into studs and felt like I could almost see His hands. Drills and screws are no better than hammer and nails. How could those heartless soldiers do that to Him? I never could.
And then this afternoon I was out on a walk contemplating those hands again. They actually pounded the nails through them? How could they? Then that familiar voice…
Every time you ignore Me, you pound the nails into My hands again.
Silence. I see myself taking His beautiful hand, and picking up the nail and pounding it through. And to think I've done it more times than I can count!
Then another thought hits me. Wouldn’t it have hurt Him so much worse if John, the much-loved disciple, had come and taken the hammer from the soldiers and pounded in those nails?
And yet I’m John. I say I know Him. I say I serve Him. I say I love Him. But I’m pounding nails.
We all do it. We’ve all scarred His hands. And it hurts Him—deeply. Because the closer we’ve been to Him, the more it hurts Him when we ignore Him.
Jesus, I don’t want to ever, ever pound one more nail into Your hand. Soften my heart and make it feel. You’ve been kept waiting for 1,980 years. Give us power to never pound another nail. Teach us to forget ourselves and make our lives a mere fulfillment of Your words. Jesus, begin a revolution in our hearts that will bring You back —soon.
It’s been one of those weeks. You know, the ones where there’s not time to take a breath before you’re on to the next thing, and then the next, and then the next. In fact it’s been one of those months. Life has been crazy for me with trying to get months of school done in much less time than normal. I had a goal—finish school completely this year.
And I’ve been determined, really determined. Ask my family :)
But Somebody else has a goal too. And He is determined. But I’ve been so engrossed in my goal that I’ve not been paying full attention to Him.
I’ve been realizing that my connection with Him was not as strong as it should be. And I’ve been asking Him to break through to me. He has. He always does. He’s done it in many ways: quotes, thoughts from friends, experiences, and His still small voice.
Because is anything really in it’s right place if it comes before Him?
And are my deadlines really a good excuse for not memorizing or spending quality time with Him at noon?
Are my goals more important than His goals?
It seems so clear when I think of it this way. Nothing is more important than Him. Our priority is ultimately Him, isn’t it? The other day I heard a saying that really hit me. When we come to the end of our lives “first priorities become only priorities.” And aren’t we told to live everyday like our last?
We were talking with some friends the other day, and one of them shared a thought with us that has really stuck in my mind this week. We often use God as a tool to achieve our goals, but isn’t He supposed to use us as tools to achieve His goals? We ask Him to help us do this and that, but shouldn’t we be asking Him how we can best be used by Him?
After a strenuous morning yesterday of trying to get two weeks of biology done in a day, I sat down at my desk with a prayer forming in my heart.
Lord, it doesn’t matter about my goal. I give it up. I will finish school whenever You want me to. I’m not going to use You as my tool any longer. Use me. Fulfill Your goals in me. Make me Your tool. And if that means I finish school next year, that's okay.
And you know there’s joy in sacrifice when it’s for Jesus. I think the joy of giving far outweighs the joy of achieving.
Jesus, teach us to never use You as a tool for accomplishing our goals—even if they're good. Teach us-- teach me-- to be Your tool; and let us accomplish Your goals—they are infinitely better than our own.
What does it really mean to embrace the cross? It's a question I've been pondering lately. And the answers that I have found have shocked me. It's now an experience I crave.
Embrace means: to take or clasp in the arms, press to the heart; to receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly.
Cross means: the cross upon which Jesus died; any suffering endured for Jesus' sake; opposition, thwarting of plans, frustration, any misfortune or trouble.
Some of those definitions really surprised me. Because when I put the definitions of these words together, I found the definition of embracing the cross: to gladly or eagerly accept frustrating circumstances. To willingly accept thwarted plans. To clasp trouble with both arms. To press opposition and misfortune to the heart. To eagerly receive the cross on which Jesus died. To gladly and willingly accept any suffering for Jesus sake.
In the last four months I have been learning what this means practically. Leaving wonderful friends in Montana, giving up our beautiful home in the mountains to live in a fifth wheel and know hardly a soul in the area has not been a bed of roses. There have been many opportunities to clasp trouble with both arms; days where I have wished that I could go back. And there have been many chances to accept frustrating circumstances. I'm remembering the time I opened the stuffed kitchen cupboard only to have a box of oats fall out, hit me on the head, bounce off the counter, and spill out all over the floor. And then just minutes later to have the raisin bran fall out, only to add to the mess on the floor :) I remember too, the days I would get up and plan to get a lot of school done, but get to the end of the day feeling like I hadn't accomplished a thing. Four people trying to concentrate on four different projects in a camper sized living room. I'm smiling now, sitting in our new home, enjoying the space, the feeling of walking half a mile to get to the kitchen, the amazing thought that I have a whole room to myself to sleep and work in.
And yet, I wouldn't trade the last four months for anything in the world. He has taught me so much. So Jesus, if you need to take me away from my friends, and my home and put me in a camper again, I'll go. My longing is to learn that the greatest joy and privilege on earth is-- embracing the cross.
Jesus keep me near the cross,
Let me grasp it tightly
Though it cause me pain and tears
Victory it bringeth!
Worth the pain of loss or grief,
Is the strength it gives me!
I have grasped the bloodstained tree
Following where it leads me.
I will ever trust Your hands
Hands that grasped before me
The blessed tree of suffering
And thus went before me.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.