Reshaped by Love: The Cross Before Me
Mar 20, 2016 03:32AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Bleary-eyed with bed hair still wisping across my path of vision, I glanced down at the floor in front of the coffee maker. A shiny glimmer caught my eye, and as I wearily bent down to investigate, I saw that it was our cross cookie cutter, sharp side up, looking abandoned and almost unrecognizable against the dark browns of the coffee floor mat. I hadn’t seen it in at least a year. It usually resides in the small utensil drawer where infrequently used items like bamboo skewers and honey stirrers keep each other company. It was clear someone haphazardly tossing clean items from the dishwasher had jarred it free, not noticing it took a slight plunge to the floor. I know the child capable of this, and it gave me a pre-coffee smile, which is admittedly very difficult to achieve.
It reminded me of another time I found a wooden toy snake slithering along my floor near a 4 inch wooden cross made at Vacation Bible School. I was struck that day by the reality of spiritual warfare and how that sneaky serpent had been trying to get the upper hand ever since the Garden of Eden. But the cross. Christ on the cross put that snake under the heel of Jesus.
But this cross…the one waiting for me on a sleepy Thursday morning? It was a very powerful reminder of the road to Calvary, the one my Jesus walked this coming week so long ago.
Like the cookie cutter cross that at one point shaped many preschool Sunday School lessons in Play-Doh, the real truth of the cross shapes hearts, changes lives. Once it cuts into the depth of our lives, it molds us more like Christ, and we are defined by the new way people see us in Christ. In the cutting, much is pruned away and discarded—not just in our moment of initial belief and salvation but in the process of sanctification our entire lives.
When we are starting to pick up the shape of the world, our loving Father conforms us to His image again, the one reflected in the cross of Christ, and once again cuts off the ungodly pieces. What a relief that we can be reshapable in His hands. The edges of that discipline are sharp for sure. Sometimes I want to hold onto the excess that blurs the lines of my defined Christian life. I want to pet the sin, cuddle it a little longer, remain in denial.
The best part is that we have a Father in heaven who won’t settle for less than what His Son offered us on the cross. He wants His best for us. And His best is a clearly defined cross. Nothing added. Nothing removed. For the world to see the amazing extent of His sacrificial, forever love, they have to see the distinct angles of two perpendicular wooden planks in our lives. They offer sharp clarity.
When we add my sin or lack of faith, we blur the truth of the cross, but when we take up that cross in honor of Jesus, our Savior, whoa! Look out! We stand in stark contrast to the world around us!
It is then we are clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, and thankfulness.
Colossians 3:12-15, ESV, Apostle
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
As I returned the cookie cutter cross to its drawer, I thought about how that cross was before me, ahead of me. Its work was finished. I just need to embrace its transforming power in my life each day.
How must Jesus have felt as he mounted that donkey to enter Jerusalem? Did He see the cross ahead? He began that week so triumphant and yet ended it betrayed.
He went willingly to that cross and took the “cuts” that did not belong to Him. He did not need the discipline and punishment of the cross. We did. It would be such a tragedy for us not to receive the remodeling of our hearts already paid for by a sinless Savior.
Take a minute, if you will, and read the Palm Sunday account with this in mind: Jesus knew the cross was ahead and continued on because He loved us so much to cut ungodliness out of our lives and restore our relationship with God. He willingly rode into Jerusalem to shape our lives forever.
Oh God, keep my lines straight and the cross ever in my vision. May my life never lose the sharp clarity of two planks across each other where my Savior conquered my sin, and may those around me walk toward the Light You shine within me, drawing them to the work done at Calvary, where they too can be cut more in Your likeness. Amen.
Matthew 21:1-11, ESV, Matthew the Apostle narrating
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?"
And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.