The cross. The place where Jesus, crucified unto death, breaking the chains of sin, set humanity free. It's a supernatural place where dead flesh permanently transforms into a new life in Christ at the simple asking of forgiveness and giving our lives to Jesus. And it's at the cross that believers find grace, forgiveness, freedom, peace, new life, faith, hope, endurance, redemption, eternal life, rest for the weary. It's where ashes are turned to beauty and fear to strength; where despair turns to peace and mourning into gladness.
My mentor taught me to pray "Jesus keep me at the cross." "Like pray it all the time", she said. "Through easy and through difficult times." She warned me that at any moment we walk away from the cross, we are walking into the dangerous territory of sin. I surely prayed that prayer, asking Jesus to keep us continually at that place where I met my Savior and He set me free. I admit I prayed it just because I trusted my mentor! I really had no idea what I was asking God to do for me.
Over the years, like many of you, we've gone through some tough tough times. Many difficult events have happened that kept my husband and I so broken, crying out to Jesus, clinging desperately to Jesus because circumstances were so painful and difficult. And there were many amazing lessons learned in the midst of the trials, blessings and gifts we wouldn't have beheld if difficulty wouldn't have entered in. All of it wrapped into a love package that kept us clinging to the foot of the cross. It wasn't until the last few months that I recognized the faithfulness of Jesus to answer my prayer and realized the bigness of what that prayer meant.
Recently I've learned of a few handfuls of folks who proclaimed Jesus to be their Savior, yet walked away from the faith. I've watched a few friends walk into the snares of sin and become engulfed in controversy and pain. And I tremble in fear. Because I am no different than any of these precious sisters and brothers. As followers of Jesus, we are all sinners saved by grace. And any of us can walk away from Jesus or become entangled in the snares of our sin flesh. None of us are immuned to sin, me included. And although Jesus' love, salvation, faithfulness to these folks and us never fails, the consequences to walking a life of disobedience are scary.
It occurred to me that God had been faithfully answering my prayer through the circumstances He'd allowed us to go through. Those life events had kept us desperate for Him, clinging tightly to the foot of the cross, eyes fixed on His, ears tuned to His voice. And it was only because of His amazing grace that I hadn't turned away from Him.
Daily. No, moment by moment, embracing the cross is the best place for us to live. It's gripping the massive wood beam, arms desperately wrapped around it, that we continually grasp Jesus' sacrificial payment for our sin debt that allows and equips us to walk in freedom from sin; the splintered wood reminding us that His grace is sufficient when the thorns of life poke and prod us. It is remaining at the foot of the cross, at that place of closeness to the Savior, blood dripping down, where we can look up and set our eyes on Jesus face and hear His voice whisper, 'Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' And we are humbled continually by His words of grace.
It is here, at this resting place that our pride stays in check - how can we walk in selfishness and pride when we are staring at the face of Redemption and are reminded that we are Redeemed only by the blood of the Lamb, the very blood we feel running over our arms as we cling to the cross.
It is here that we know we can do nothing without Jesus and all things through Him. Clinging and bowed down to the old rugged cross keeps our hearts and minds at the place of total humility.
And that friends, is exactly where we want to stay, to live. It is the only place we can dwell safely this side of Heaven.
Sin always starts with a slow fade. Pride is numbing, keeping us from recognizing the slippery slope we are treading. But the cross is the place where our hearts and minds are continually renewed. Where sin gets recognized and forgiven. Where our hearts stay humbled by His great love.
So join me in praying, "Jesus, keep me at the cross. Continually. Use every situation you bring into my life to keep me at the cross. Thank you that everything that enters into this life you've given me is hand sifted and handcrafted for Your glory and my good. You are a perfect Father and everything you do for me, even the painful stuff, is orchestrated perfectly to make me like Jesus. Use all the amazing blessings in the everyday moments of my life to keep me at the cross too; reminding me that you are so so good and loving and awesome that you would put those love gifts in my day to bless me. Jesus, keep me at the cross. Guard me from sin. Keep my feet from slipping. Wake me up when I'm wooed by the slow fade of sin. I am nothing without you. Keep me at your cross. Amen"