On the wall behind the desk in my office, there is a cross. The first time I saw that cross, I was about sixteen years old. I was away at the Conference Youth Camp in Leesburg, Florida, and it was the first day. I had stopped in the camp store and it caught my eye, but the price seemed a bit high, so I resisted.
Each day as the week wore on, I would stop by the little store and check to see if anyone had bought the cross. The more I looked at it, the more I wanted it. Finally, on the last day of camp, I made one last stop at the little store to make it my own.
Since that time, this cross has been with me everywhere I have gone. I took it with me to college. When Carol and I married, I was serving a student appointment, so the cross went up in my office. Every move we have made, I have made it a priority to find an appropriate place for the cross. And it has been that way for fifty years now.
I confess, there have been times when I have been tempted to take it down. I remember once it had become so dinged, broken and unsightly, I wasn’t sure it had any further use. Fortunately, before doing away with it, I told the story to a lady who had stopped by my office. She said, “Let me have it for a couple of weeks and let me see what I can do.” She took it home, made some repairs, put a frame around it, and today it is more a part of my life than ever before. She helped me see that a cross that was so ugly could be transformed into a thing of tremendous beauty.
I believe this is the way it can be, not just with the cross that hangs in my office, but with the cross that can hang in our hearts.
This Sunday, we are celebrating the first Sunday in Lent. The season of Lent actually started last Wednesday on what we call Ash Wednesday. It runs for forty days (not including Sundays) and leads up to Easter Sunday. Lent is that season where we join Jesus on his journey to the cross.
Lent invites us to remember the story behind the cross—the story of a God whose love runs so deep and whose grace is so immense that He refuses to give up on any of us. The story of a God who allowed His own Son to suffer and die so that we might have life abundant and life eternal.
Lent is also a reminder to take the cross with us wherever we go—into our homes, out with our friends on a Friday night, into our offices, through the deepest valleys of life and through times of tremendous joy. It is a reminder that there is no place on earth where the cross is out of place.
But most of all, Lent is an invitation to a changed life. It is the chance to say, “Yes” to Christ and walk with him in the way of life. When we do, we find the cross is not just a piece of jewelry we wear around our necks, or something that adorns our homes. We find it hangs in our hearts and has a transforming effect on our lives.
Yours in Christ,