August 7, 2008

Nail It To The Cross

Posted in Poetry, Stories at 3:40 pm by Sarah Bosse

Nail It To The Cross
By Sarah M. Bosse

I saw a man walking slowly on the road. He carried a heavy burden of many packages in his arms, trying to balance them, unsteady though they were. He had carried these many packages for years – so many years, in fact, that his arms were closed tight around them, his fingers and hands now permanently stretched in odd contortions to grasp the packages, and his neck was bent down from years of gazing at his packages and clutching them to his breast. He was chained like a prisoner by his own choice. Young lads passed him on the sides of the narrow road. They carried little and ran speedily with free hands, eyes focused on a goal far ahead. Even though the man would have benefitted by laying down his packages or giving them away so that he might progress in his travels and be strengthened and receive health again, he was unwilling. So many years of clutching these parcels and nourishing his attachment to them had left him unable to give any part of them away to other travelers who might equally have benefitted from the service. The man would grimace when he laid his hands on particular parcels – they seemed to cause him considerable pain and sorrow. Others seemed to cause him to worry and become anxious – when he touched these, he would begin, without lifting his bowed neck, to look from the sides of his eyes at those around him in suspicion. “Precious” is how the man described his packages, his encumbrances.

I came along side him to take a closer look. After all, what are these packages that could cause so much worry, pain, anxiety, suffering, and yet be so valuable that this man would not dispose of them so he could travel freely and hastily navigate closer to his ultimate goal? To my surprise, the packages were clearly labeled – rejection, earthly dreams and success, anger, dwelling on pains and sufferings, fear of suffering, pride, self-sufficiency. But there were other parcels that seemed like wholesome and pleasant gifts – desire to serve God, desire for holiness, desire to forgive, desire for healing.

It was revealed to me that this man’s focus was attracted to his arms and the items he carried – his gaze was inward and self-focused, and he desired to protect himself by rejecting the help and love of others. This man was perhaps the loneliest man I had ever seen – unable to give to others, and unable to receive from others because his hands were already too full to hold any more. He fretted and spent all his energies protecting the packages and keeping them to himself. Because of his self-focus, even his good desires (to be used by God and to be holy, to forgive others and to be healed) were useless because he based them all on his own performance in clinging to them and would not rely on others to help him carry the loads. He would not rely on Christ as His source for all the good things, but instead saw Christ as a stingy giver who would not continue to fulfill his needs after he had emptied himself through service and giving. In this man’s mind, Christ was a one-stop pick-up shop and not a wellspring of everlasting life and goodness. Christ was not clinging to him – it was his responsibility alone to cling to Christ and improve himself.

I could not leave this man alone on the road. The Lord bid me stay and speak to him. I said to him, “Do you desire freedom and the ability to serve Christ with your whole being?” “Surely” he responded, “but how am I to do this? I try so hard, but I always fail.” I answered him, “It is not about how you are to do it, but about how Christ has already done it,” and I proceeded to share with him the freedom that belongs to followers of Christ. Tears flooded his tired eyes, and he said, “Please, lead me, show me the way!” As we walked, I told him we must take up the Way of the Cross. The ancient tree was still stained with the crimson tide of Christ’s blood. “Step up to the cross, and with a nail and hammer in hand, take each encumbrance and hammer it into the wood of the forsaken tree, one at a time. These nails have already pierced a thousand times before on your behalf. By the miracle revealed to us in Christ Jesus, God is glorified by taking your sin and your pain. Your sin and pain has already been paid for – why try to pay for it yourself or hold onto what has already been burnt with the fire of the Almighty? Is it not ash, useless? You cannot do anything good on your own. Yet God gives beauty for ashes as we, His children, no longer roll in the dust and ash heaps as though we thought we were bathing in gold…but instead, look up to Him who desires to give us true riches. Only when we look up from our ash heap can we have arms open to receive His riches and full cleansing!”

Standing before the Cross, the man slowly set each parcel down on the ground before his feet, and lifted the hammer which has been lifted by so many a saint before. Taking pride by the corner, he nailed it to the cross, followed by earthly dreams and success, anger, and dwelling on pains and sufferings. Then he exclaimed, “Christ suffered for me!” and fresh tears wet his cheeks. The tears were joyful and as the man continued to nail the parcels of his life to the cross, years of aging and deformity were lifted from his frame. After nailing the unpleasant packages to the cross, he looked at the good gifts, the good desires and spiritual blessings that were wrapped up, and said “These too I give back to Christ, in recognition that Christ is not only all I ever need, but a good giver and rich supplier of every blessing” and he proceeded to nail these gifts to the cross as well, trusting not in his own abilities to use these gifts but solely in God’s grace to use him despite his human frailty.

Finally, after his hands were free, he dropped the hammer that had pierced Christ’s flesh two thousand years ago, and stepped back. He saw the Cross, and he saw faintly the fullness of his life, nailed to the Cross. The sun shown down in golden rays and the man’s gaze was turned upward to focus on the God of the Cross. His arms raised up and his fingers outstretched for the first time in decades, and he gave glory to God with great praise and thanksgiving. His arms were free to give and to receive, and the Lord was pleased to pour blessings upon him – the riches this man was able to receive through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Worship

Worship

Nail My Glory
Words by Isaac Watts

Music and additional words by
Devon Kauflin and Bob Kauflin

No more, my God, I boast no more
Of everything my hands have done
I quit the hopes I held before
To trust the merits of Your Son

Now for His love I bear His name
My former pride I call my shame
What was my gain I count my loss
And I nail my glory to His cross

And by Your grace I will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake
Oh may my soul be found in Him
And of His righteousness partake

All of the works of my own hands
I dare not bring before Your throne
My faith responds to Your demands
By pleading what my Lord has done

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