Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wonder of the Cross

In Hebrews 12, there is one phrase that always  paralyzes me. "For consider Him".  I believe that, contained within those three words, is the entirety of Christianity.

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: 
for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
"Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend."
"Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, 
and in judgment, and in plenty of justice, he will not afflict."
"Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? 
who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"
"Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."

That is what Jesus is worthy of, and the cross is what he chose. I have sought words to describe what takes place when I see the cross. God takes my hand and leads me up a dusty path, to the hill called Golgotha. Blood, blood, more blood. My ransom. I fall to my knees, mouth agape, tears streaming, not wanting to look, but not being able to turn away. What a price. What a mystery, that God should give His blood for me! But nothing my frail hand could pen quite equals the song by Vickie Beeching, 'Wonder of the Cross'.

 "O precious sight, my Savior stands,
Dying for me with outstretched hands.
O precious sight, I love to gaze,
Remembering salvation’s day.

Though my eyes linger on this scene,
May passing time and years not steal
The power with which it impacts me,
The freshness of its mystery.

May I never lose the wonder,

The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross."

I have realized how imperative it is that I never -ever- take my eyes from that cross. Christ is the beginning, the center, the end. There simply isn't anything else that is important. And we cannot consider Christ without considering the cross -for upon that one piece of wood hangs the fate of all humanity. The most earth-shaking event in all of history. Words are not sufficient to describe the power with which this sight should captivate us.

Gypsy Smith, a great evangelist in the early 20th Century, was once asked what was the secret of his long ministry.  He replied, "I never lost the wonder of it all."

So. When you truly behold the wonder of His cross, your fate is sealed. You'll never be the same again. You are forever changed by the blood running down those nails and wood. You can no longer live your life as if it were yours. You can't pretend that it never happened, that it's just a myth; at least not for long. Your entire existence will be about magnifying that cross and all that it represents. So, I say again.
"May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time

Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So Great Salvation

 A clip from Paris Reidhead's "So Great Salvation", which I was privileged enough to hear for the first time during Bible School in one of our discussion groups. Remember, and never forget. He bought you to *set you free.*

"Oh, you bought me to set me free! You paid more than has ever been paid before just to set me free." And then she looked up through her tears and said, "Oh sir. All I want in life is to be your slave. You bought set me free."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bible School and Ballet Shoes

Have you ever loved something so much that you desperately wanted to waste time, body, and blood on it to the fullest degree humanly possible? I have. Twice.

At age four, Haley enters her first dance class. Fumbling, still-baby coordination. Learning beginner plies and jetes. Not even ballet really, just a lyrical worship dance. Basic ballet began at seven -"Point your toes. Good. Now bend your knees like this. See Haley? That's a plie. Heel forward on that tendu. Watch my feet! This is a chasse. No no, turn out on that grand jete! Spot your  head faster for that double pirouette, Haley, or you'll never get around. Strong port de bras! Long fingers...better...keep trying." At age eleven, classical training began. Age fourteen, pointe shoes (say hello to blisters). At fifteen, I began dancing every day of the week (say hello to chronic tendonitis), as well as teaching a class full of 6-11 year olds. And now, at sixteen, I begin Adagio (partnering).

Beginning last year, I was certain ballet was going to be my career. My life. Something I would live and breathe and bleed for. No matter what it took, or how much it hurt, I was going to succeed, and nothing would stop me. (hehe...It cracks me up -in a grim, ironic sort of fashion- when I hear myself make absolute statements like that now.) As a Christian, I had plans to study with professional Christian companies, and eventually join one, after which I would spend the remainder of my career (possibly into my early forties) traveling the world with that company.

Splendid! I thought. So many other teens were struggling over what to do with their lives, struggling to find their place in society, struggling to see God's will -but guess what?! I was leaps and bounds ahead! I already knew! I was going to make this future happen -for God- because I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful.

Please understand. I'm not saying this path isn't a possibility in my life. But I'm saying I found something so undeniably greater that all that only barely sounds appealing.

That something is a He. 

His name is Jesus Christ. Prince of Life. Merciful Savior. Morning Star. Man of Sorrows. Messiah. Lamb that was slain. Son of man. Son of God. Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of peace. King of kings. Creator of it all. Prodigal God (look for a later post explaining that name). Heavenly Priest. The Branch. The Dayspring. 


And coming face to face with the Son of God is a bit like being run over by a semi. A million times. Except that a semi is nowhere near as impacting.

This has happened in little baby steps over the last year especially. I couldn't even begin to list all of the ways He has constantly been inviting me to look at more of who He is. He gives the gift of sight, and once you've seen Him, He's all you want to look at. And all  this seemed to culminate, at least in the area of ballet, at the week long bible school held at my church January 1-7. What a way to kick-start one's year.

That week was seven days of weeping in intercession, of specific prayers answered specifically, of strong conviction, of seeing Christ for who He is, of glorifying God simply because He's God, of humbling yourself in front of your peers because God hates your pride, of seeing others break through walls of bitterness and fear. On the first day, I felt that if God answered another prayer, or showed His love and grace even a drop more, I would physically just break. I would curl up in a corner and cry, because I don't deserve any of it. Any of Him. During that week, I, and many others, came face to face with the person of Jesus Christ. I echo Job when, after God came and spoke to him in the whirlwind, he cried,  
"I  have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." 
That's what it felt like. I'd never seen God as I was seeing Him then. I had heard, but never seen for myself...and that's when I began to realize that I am naught but dust. My life is a vapor that appears for a time, then passes away. A flower that lasts a season, and then falls withered to the ground. And Christ is all that I'm here for. 

I began to realize that, very literally, nothing but the Cross mattered. My dreams for the future were like a grain of sand compared with Buckingham Palace. Forget Buckingham, the Taj Mahal! No, that's not great enough...a grain of sand compared with the whole universe! (For those who have watched Louie Giglio's "How Great is our God", you can grasp what I am trying to communicate.)

So ballet...just isn't important anymore. It's not that I don't enjoy it. It's not that I couldn't join a company. It's just that my relationship with Jesus is so much more precious than anything I can imagine; and a life filled with ballet no longer sounds like the ultimate existence.

By the grace and for the glory of God, I hope to continue in what I learned at bible school. And not just to continue, but to increase. I know that I have only barely tasted Christ, I have only barely tasted prayer, I have only barely tasted knowing Him. Without Him, I have absolutely no hope. Zero. I cannot accomplish any of the things I have spoken of that took place during bible school -I speak more with longing than with the understanding that comes with experience- except Christ change my life. I want Him to change me so radically that I seek a deeper relationship with Him purely for the sake of knowing Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering -not because I want people to think I'm spiritual. Let it be said of me that I always stood for Christ, when the world mocked.  

Because once you've seen Him, you can never forget Him, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.