With Easter less than two months away (can you believe it?) and with the Lenten season beginning in less than 2 weeks, we wanted to share this beautiful piece, simply titled, “The Cross.” Not that we have to wait for the approach of Easter season to talk about the cross; it’s always a relevant topic. For it was on the cross that Christ made possible fellowship with God– in this life and in the one to come. Let us never stop talking about it!
The Dogwood tree was very old. More than 80 years old. It was crooked like all of the other Dogwood trees. The years of its strength had long since passed, and now it was time to be removed. The tree was cut down and the twisted logs were thrown in a heap with the other old wood. The once flower-filled Dogwood was now to be tossed away or cut into common firewood.
But a carpenter came by and looked at the pile of wood. He looked at the ugly old bark and the damage that was so plain to see. He pulled out a log and inspected it, then another, and then one more. He took the old dead and discarded wood back to his workshop. There the carpenter began to cut away at the logs. He trimmed away the crookedness, and he cut away the damage. He revealed the grain of the wood and it was pure and beautiful, so the carpenter kept working at his task. As the days progressed the carpenter drew out the gentle beauty that had been so deeply hidden within the dead old logs. Years of neglect had left many scars, but the tree had a unique character. The things that were special the carpenter left in place as he cut and worked with the beautiful wood.
When the work was done the carpenter stepped back. He looked at the Cross he had so carefully made. The beauty was there to testify of hope, but so were the special spots to tell of life’s pain. He looked upon what was once hopeless and lost and saw the beauty revealed by the master’s hand.
I am the carpenter, and this Cross is a lot like me. In the eyes of the world, I belonged on the scrap heap of humanity. Broken and useless, lacking any purpose or beauty, destined for destruction. This is where Jesus found me. He saw something of value and took me from the rubble pile, and carried me to His workshop of grace. There the Master cut away the ugly portions of my past, He cast aside the broken pieces of my failures, and He uncovered the value He saw in me. He then fashioned me into something He could use.
He put me together with others for whom He had done the same thing. Gathering us from the back alleys and secret corridors of human sin, reaching past the fancy buildings, past the pride and positions, and into the trash heaps and the garbage dumps of humanity, He lovingly restored the lost beauty and purpose of our existence. He is making something beautiful out of the lost and worthless lives of hurting and damaged people. That’s the business He is in; the Master is restoring lost lives.
So when He touches you and carries you from the scrap heap of life, go with Him.
I know. Because of the gentle touch of the Master’s skillful hand, I am no longer condemned; I have crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
-Pastor Paul Sandberg | President of Messiah’s Outreach Missions Board
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