Keep Me Near the Cross

Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?

Easter Sunday is hands down, my favorite day of the year. Spring is in the air, everything seems fresh and new; signs of life are everywhere. I absolutely love the parallel: because Chris rose from the dead our very lives are being made new—just as the blossoms and leaves are sprouting anew.

This year, I observed Lent for the first time. In the past, I always dismissed it as being something only for the Catholics. What I learned was that Lent is a season of quieting your heart and preparing for the celebration of Easter. It’s about taking a break from the daily routine and basking in the love of God; it’s about fixing your eyes on the Cross.

  • Gave up: Coffee (trust me, this was quite the challenge!!)
  • Devotional: She Reads Truth: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. (SRT is an awesome app that has great, short, simple devotionals)

Never have I felt so hopeful for the redemption and restoration that comes through the cross than in the past 47 days. I spent the first few weeks of Lent focusing on the condition of my heart. I became painfully aware of just how selfish, unholy, and prideful my heart is; morning after morning, my heart was broken by my own sin. Praying for the Lord to convict you of sins in your heart is quite a dangerous thing, and believe me when I say it hurts. Even little things in my day to day conversations began to feel uncomfortable as I thought about the spirit behind them.

“Left alone, sin will strangle the life out of our heart and soul. It debilitates, destroys, and divides. The tighter the grip, the less we can breathe to sustain the inward and outward life” – Day 15

The next few weeks were spent focusing on the unfailing goodness and love of the Lord. He loves us even in the midst of the ugliness in our heart. We have to come before His throne with more than just sorrow, we have to have a heart of repentance. God is waiting, ready and willing to extend His unending grace—if only we humble ourselves and ask. I whole heartedly believe that nothing brings him more joy than welcoming us back home with arms open wide as we present our broken, contrite hearts.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit.” – Ps. 51:10

Finally, the last part of Lent was spent looking toward the Cross itself—looking toward the significant sacrifice that was to be made. Christ, who lived a pure, blameless life took on the weight of the world’s sin; he bore the wrath of his just, holy Father. Simply because he loves us, because he wants us to live in communion with him, and because it’s one step toward making all things new. Christ knew that as the people cried for him to save them on Palm Sunday, it would require his painful death and that it meant separation from his Father. But he paid that price so we wouldn’t have to. Having just spent the past several weeks honing in on the darkness of my sin and my need for a Savior, it makes the beauty of Christ’s death that much more powerful. The debt that is yours and mine to pay, is paid in full by an innocent king.

Even more beautiful still is that the story isn’t over (and this is my favorite part of the story).  Christ defeated death. He is alive! And because he lives, we can face tomorrow. We have forgiveness for our past and hope for the future! If we allow him to, he will make us new and mold us in his image of holiness.

“Because of the sacrifice of the Son and the forgiveness of the Father, you and I have a place in this story—in The Story. May we continue to walk in the narrative of grace penned with us in mind.” – Day 42