The Sound of Love’s Sacrifice

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Some folks shot me strange looks as I was coming out of Home Depot a few days ago. 

 

I was carrying a 5’ wooden cross.  I also got some nods of partial understanding…it was, after all, Good Friday.  Members of my family in Christ didn’t need to know the reason for the cross I was carrying.  They simply did the math and reckoned it had something to do with Easter celebration.  I lugged the cross through the parking lot feeling the splinters of the oak beam dig into my shoulder.  For a moment I paused to consider the weight of the Cross Christ bore on the Via Dolorosa. 

 

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love special occasions.  My domestic flair peaks with the approach of a holiday.  Determined not to permit decorating and cooking for 20+ people to overshadow the meaning of our Lord’s death and resurrection, I had gone to Home Depot with a mission in mind.  The cross would be placed out side my front door with 9” spikes partially nailed at opposite ends of the crossbeam.  A sign posted above the cross draped with a crimson sash read “It wasn’t the nails that held Him there.  It was His love for You.” Guests would be invited to hit one of the spikes with a hammer as a visual and auditory reminder, “Christ took the nails for me”.   

 

Predictably the guests began to arrive and each person was surprised to be greeted with a hug and a hammer.  Still all understood the powerful imagery and were sobered at the invitation to hit the spike.  The sound of the hammer driving the nail was powerful and sent chills down my spine each time I heard it.  It was the sound of Love’s sacrifice.

 

What must it have been like that day at Calvary?  Christ did not simply hear the spikes, He felt them.  Every blow.  In His wrists.  Through His ankles.  These were not little nails but large spikes ruthlessly driven deep into His flesh.  Did He grimace?  Did He cry aloud?  Did He weep?  Whatever His response to this torture, we know 2000 years later the nails were not what held Jesus to the Cross.  As a mob at His feet mocked Him to save Himself, Jesus could have called legions of angels to His rescue.  But love made a choice that day, a choice to hang there.  Love chose to endure the agony.  Love chose to die for the sin of mankind.  Love chose to pay a price man could never afford, to give a gift man would never deserve. 

 

He endured the suffering that should have been ours. Isaiah 53:4

 

Praise be to God that Calvary was not the end.  As I celebrated Easter Sunday with friends and family today, we gave thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and we rejoiced in His Resurrection.  Because He lives we have hope for this journey.  Beyond that, Christ’s victory over the final enemy…death…offers us the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven.

 

“God raised Him up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:24

 

Jesus Christ is RISEN!

Breaking In, Breaking Through

Author’s Note:  This is a lengthy, uncommon post topic for me.  But it is a true story.  I have been asked to write my story for possible publication in a woman’s magazine.  This is my “rough draft” and I would treasure feedback from anyone who has a comment.  Thank You, dear friends. ~di

Living alone had never been an issue for me.  I was never one of those women fearful to walk through a dark house by myself.  Was it because I was young and foolish, thinking as many 20-somethings that I was invincible?  Was it the false sense of security those few months of karate lessons had given me?  Or maybe it was the cool piece of steel in the form of a .38 snub nose kept loaded under a pillow next to me every night.  Perhaps, it was a combination of all these. More likely at the heart of it was a naiveté  assuring me, “I am a child of God.  No harm can befall me.”

 

I had no idea someone had been watching me for several weeks.  Oblivious to my stalker audience, I went about my business immune to the threat that awaited me.  The August night I heard noises outside my open window, I was startled but not genuinely frightened.  Anyone who could read the “Neighborhood Watch” sign in my front yard had to know not to mess with me, right?  Pistol in hand, I moved from room to room.  I must have looked ridiculous peering out a few windows, checking the landscape for evidence of intruders.  Unbeknownst to me, the spy was crawling in my kitchen window.  I returned my pistol to its rightful position under the pillow and disappeared into the bathroom to remove my contacts before heading back to bed.  As I emerged from the bathroom, I came face to face with a man I had never seen before and the consequences of his life of pent up rage.

 

On the night before my 3rd spiritual birthday, I became a rape statistic.  I’ve since learned that one in four women will become the victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.  I’ve also learned a few other things…things such as what it’s like to experience the agony of living in a fallen world, what the Bible says about tribulation in this world… “in this world you WILL have tribulation, but I have overcome the world” {John 6:33}and I learned how God expects us to respond to those who wound us deeply.

 

Even as a fairly new Christian, I recognized the importance of memorizing Scripture.  Some friends and I had challenged one another to memorize all of Romans Chapter 8.  That summer night after my miraculous escape from my offender I asked everyone I encountered, “Do you know my Jesus?  Do you know that He says ‘all things work together for good to those who love Him’?”  I’m sure I was in shock but I still recall the strange looks I received from ambulance driver to police officer to emergency room physician to the pastor on call at my mega church as I recited Romans 8:28 over & over to anyone who would listen.  I had no idea the impact those words would render in my own life as a result of that traumatic encounter.  I only knew that I was alive after having my own gun wrestled away from me and held to my head.  Unquestionably, God had a purpose in sparing my life.  Surely, he would work this nightmare for my good.

 

In the weeks following that horrible incident, I lost sight of the promise of Romans 8:28.  Days, weeks, months of Godly counseling passed before the prayers of loving family and friends prevailed and I received the peace of that promise. Ultimately, I realized that Abba, my Daddy God, was faithful.   I regained the courage, albeit slowly, to face the world again.  Painfully, I submitted the reality of my experience into His loving hands as I acknowledged that my suffering, though not God’s choice for my life was part of God’s plan.  In the process, He began to work it for my good, just as He had promised.  As surely as the criminal had broken into my home, God was breaking through the bitterness of my stubborn heart.

 

It didn’t happen overnight but eventually I was able to forgive my attacker.  I realized that unforgiveness against another is like ingesting poison and expecting the other person to die.  I knew I had to surrender my assailant to the God who said, “vengeance is mine” though truthfully, I wasn’t gentle in asking God to deal with him on my behalf.  It took much struggling for me to recognize before my salvation through Christ I was as much a condemned sinner as this man was.  Only then, in light of Christ’s mercy for me could I ask the Holy Spirit to convict this criminal of his sin and rescue his soul.

 

Several years passed.  One summer afternoon I found myself standing in a State Penitentiary Chapel before a crowd of felons, a rough group of sex offenders, child abusers, robbers and murderers.  I was there to share the Truth of the Word of God, that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God and ALL of us were in need of redemption.  Sharing John 3:16, I spoke of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to redeem us and of the forgiveness belonging to “whosoever believes in Him”.

 

My testimony concluded in a blur, but I recall leading the crowd in a prayer of repentance.  Then, one by one, men in prison jumpsuits filed past me and were allowed to speak briefly to me.  Not all the comments were kind and I was grateful for guards posted on each side of me.  But that day I saw in the eyes of a few their repentant desire to know this Jesus who could forgive the unspeakable sins which led them to this place.

 

It was the grace of God holding me there as each prisoner passed by.  And it was the Spirit of God who whispered to my soul that summer afternoon… “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Rest in Peace Adam Walsh

It is a parent’s worst nightmare…a child goes missing.  Walking home from school, riding a bike from a neighbor’s home, sitting in a parked car while the parent runs a quick errand or in the case of 6 year old Adam Walsh, disappearing in the mall.  Over 2000 children are abducted every day in this country & a parent’s soul is ripped to shreds.  There are no words more terrifying in the human vocabulary, no matter what language, than the equivalent of “my child is missing”. 

In 1981 John Walsh uttered those words and one family’s trauma sent ripple effects throughout society.  The story was splashed across headlines.  America’s gut wrenched when it was learned that 2 weeks after being reported missing from a mall in Hollywood, FL, little Adam’s head, severed from his body, had been recovered from a canal.  Twenty-seven years later the child’s body has still never been located. 

For well over two decades the culprit in the Walsh family nightmare remained a mystery.  Today, came the news at last that the murder has been solved.  A longtime suspect in the case, one who had confessed, then recanted, then confessed and recanted again, was officially identified as the killer. 

While the “who” of this case has now been officially solved, the “Why” of it all may never be known.  How does anyone explain the kind of pathology that renders someone capable of such a heinous act?  What drove Ottis Toole, and thousands of others like him, to take the lives of innocent children?

Clearly, there are no easy answers and Adam’s parents will forever suffer the pain from losing a child in such a tragic manner.  Despite the pain, the Walsh family’s “healing process” has affected all of America.  It was because of this beautiful little boy with big brown eyes & a freckled nose that thousands of other missing & exploited children’s faces have found their way onto milk cartons & posters & mailers & police databases all across America.  

With impassioned advocacy born from agonizing loss, Adam’s father John Walsh mobilized this nation on behalf of missing children everywhere.  From the halls of public schools to the chambers of Congress, measures were implemented that galvanized a country to protect it’s children & to find those who went missing.  Who hasn’t seen at least one episode or heard of “America’s Most Wanted”?  This television program launched by activism and driven by love brought the reality of a parent’s worst nightmare into millions of living rooms and into our hearts.

I have the deepest respect for John Walsh’s crusade to keep America’s eyes open to the plight of missing & exploited children.  With the Walsh family today I breathe a long awaited sigh of relief that the murder of Adam Walsh has been solved.

Rest in peace Adam.