The Scandalous Hope of the Cross
That is my own kitchen window, pictured above. The photograph speaks its thousand words. The Cross made by the sashes of my neighbor’s window is so pure and clean, and I like how it shines so brightly in the distance, beckoning away from this darkness. It reminds me of the hope I hold, everyday, and how I want to know nothing else, except that Cross, and the One crucified upon it.
Why would I? Why would I fix my gaze upon such a gruesome spectacle? Because it demonstrates the greatest Love, ever. Because my mortally sin-sick soul was desperate for healing–I was dying even as I lived. Broken in spirit, I found in the Cross the only cure. It was in Jesus’ death-exchange for my own failing life, in His payment in pain to do justice for all my crimes, that this frail prisoner of death was finally set free. And as I believed in His resurrection from the dead, there was the hope I longed for in my despairing life–as Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.” So, though it appears a dark and scandalous thing this side of eternity, the Cross is the shining out of Heaven of infinite love.
The Victorian writer Mark Guy Pearse says of it, “The Cross of Christ is the glorious reflection of God’s love to the world, but it is more than that only; it focusses the infinite love and throws it burning and transforming upon the heart that bows beneath it. It is ours and all our own. The love that endured disgrace and poverty and pain could only be for such as we are. Now it is ours to ask this question with a boldness triumphant as [Paul’s] of old, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
The ledge of my window has held more than just vases of flowers and votives. At one particularly desperate season of my life, there was a verse scrawled on a scrap of paper resting there, and it brought such comfort to me. With that comfort, I hope to comfort other troubled hearts. We cannot face the darkness surrounding us without the bulwark of our position, that of being hidden in Christ from the foundation of the world, strengthening our hearts. It an immovable place, as there we rest in that shining Cross, and in a Word that speaks from all eternity:
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him,
for he shields him all day long,
and the one the LORD loves rests
between his shoulders.” (Deut. 33:12)
Moses spoke these words to encourage Benjamin, who as a tribe would fall into grave sin, and become a remnant. But the High Priest bore Benjamin’s sins into the Most Holy Place, and made atonement. For all who have fallen, Jesus has made atonement. And He prays for us, that our faith will not fail! As we rest in His finished work, we who have been cleansed by His blood, and continue to be cleansed by His Word, can we really fall away? Oh to Him who is able to keep His beloved children, be all the glory, both now and forever! Oh, beloved of the Lord, do not cast away your confidence, it has great reward — only hold the faithfulness of God.
Whenever I am tempted to be overwhelmed by the shadows around my window and the lurking darkness of this evil present age, I look to the cross, and to the unfailing love found there:
Surely never was man faced by so
threatening a host. There is Tribulation,
a giant stained with blood, the flail
upon his shoulder, threshing men and women
as the thresher threshes corn.
There is Distress, stripping life
of all that gladdens it. There is Persecution,
leading on his accursed crew,
prison, torture, outrage, agony.
There is Famine, gaunt, and hollow-eyed,
blighting with her breath and bringing
in her train a hundred forms of ill.
There is Death with his terrors.
And all the air is filled with Principalities
and Powers that fight against him…
One sight of that Face
and the voice of this love
so wonderful, so infinite, so abiding
that speaks to us everyone,
and they are all forgotten…*
It is so dark outside this Window of Hope, except when I fix my gaze on Him and determine to know nothing else, except the glorious reflection of God’s love to the world, the wondrous Cross of Christ. Oh, look with me there, and agree… “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
*Adapted from Christ’s Cure For Care, by Mark Guy Pearse, ( pgs. 133). One of my favorite books, first published a century ago, recommended by his friend Charles Spurgeon, and reprinted and updated by David Wilkerson. I return to Pearse’s edifying little book again and again, in these worrisome days, to remind myself of the pagan nature of worry. Pearse considers the lilies, and the birds, and draws beautiful word pictures of the Father’s tender care for all of His Creation, but most especially His Children.