This poem was inspired when, out walking the dog the other night, I saw in the distance what looked to be a cross, shining as if illuminated against the surrounding dark. I think it was actually a street lamp column with a low roof behind it. Whatever it was doesn’t really matter – it struck me forcibly as God trying to reach me and say something about the sacrifice of Jesus and my record as a disciple…
I spied the cross of Jesus, standing far ahead.
It seemed to glow, gracious in the gloaming,
And with love-strength draw me towards it,
Tenderly upbraiding my aimless roaming.
At this evening point of my life, waste-sated,
Weary, with naught to show for greed grabbing,
Its quiet insistence, beckoning from distance,
Somehow offered a new meaning for my living.
For I wore His badge, yet shirked the skirmish,
Hiding in the sward at the edge of life’s combat.
Signed up in my youth, I had the garb and rank,
Yet, deserter, never obeyed my Captain’s diktat.
The cross brought to me the profoundest sorrow:
Here was One who led by example, out in front,
Putting His life on the line, blasted by men’s sin,
With no cavalry coming, to bear the bloody brunt.
Yes, I talked the talk, but never walked the walk,
Though parading proudly in the safety of the fort.
That cruel vision cut through my pious palisade,
And exposed my faith as cowardly afterthought.
For I had strayed from His magnificent command,
A prey to every excuse and awol instigation. I
Heard the distant cries yet faced the other way,
For fear He call me to His side to fight and die.
Could I dare turn about and face that dreadful foe?
The enemy I could never elude, the enemy within,
Which no retreat or armistice can bring to terms,
Because the conflict is in me – my unrepented sin?
I came before His cross. I gazed and wept aloud,
Daring not to touch the bloodied wood or finger
The nail holes that marked His sacrificial reach.
And there I stood and wept, being fain to linger.
“Take courage!” His voice whispered in my heart.
“Courage! The foe is strong but My love stronger.
Life is found in being prepared to lose it. Believe
In Me and know you have the strength to conquer.”
And then I knew, not that I should share His cross,
But that He had taken my cross, bore its weight,
The weight of all our sin. For He took our place,
Substituting Himself to endure our deserved fate.
Can I find that courage borne of my Jesus’ love?
Can I keep His cross ever before my frail sight?
Can I witness to the power of His abiding Spirit?
As on that grace-filled and, oh so, special night?