As I look around now in the pre-dawn light, I find that I am standing in front of something. I never noticed it before in the darkness, but now, with the ever-brightening sky, I am clearly beginning to see a shape. It is the shape . . . of a cross.
Towering over me, it seems as if it is looking down at me. It's staring . . . at me. I quickly look around me. No one else is here. At least I don't think so. It's still pretty dark.
Wait! What's that?! The shape of the cross . . . it . . . it's changed. There is now something else . . . it's a man! There is a man hanging on the cross!!!
What am I doing here? How did I even get here, and where exactly IS here? I look around again. Still no one.
Things are getting brighter now. A little easier to see. The man on the cross . . . he is still breathing . . . barely. What is happening!?! Why am I witnessing this?
As the sun finally begins to peek out over the horizon the first rays of sunlight begin to reach the top of the cross. Pinks, reds . . . a human head, moving ever-so-slightly with the labored breathing. Who was this man? He seemed so near to death it was as if each breath was surely to be his last. So weak. Yet he is trying to raise his head.
I peer longingly, hoping to see who it is. The shadows are still long and it is difficult to see but . . . that face! I . . . I . . . I think it . . . oh, my dear Lord!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The first time it finally hit me that Jesus had actually died for MY sins was the same moment I had come to faith in Christ - nearly nine years ago. When everything "got real" there was little doubt in my mind that things had changed. I had changed. And there was no going back. Not that I wanted to. My life had permanently been transformed.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was born again - the change was that dramatic. It was amazing! Yet, at the same time, it was very troubling. I felt a tremendous guilt. I should have been the one on that cross. I struggled with the thought of Jesus taking on the punishment for something I had done. There was a part of me that wished I was the one of that cross, paying the price for sinning against a holy and just God. I had earned that spot. At the same time I wondered in awe at the tremendous love God showed me by offering His Son in my place. In YOUR place. VERY humbling.
So why was I spared? Why was I chosen? Why were any of us called to be children of the Most High God? These questions can not be answered, at least not in this place. As a Christian I cling tightly to my faith. Without it all is lost. Without it there is no hope.
Faith ebbs and flows like a river. Sometimes it runs slowly and deeply. Other times it can be rather shallow . . . even dry. But then comes the spring and the life-giving waters flow once more.
Are you born again? Are you born of the Spirit? It is a requirement for getting into heaven. God knows when His Holy Spirit enters each and every soul. There is no eternal entrance exam to take. Either you're in or you're out. There's no make up test. No extra credit. Do do-overs. And God does not grade on a curve. It is pass / fail.
Have you repented of your sins? Do you feel ashamed every time you commit a sin? Do you seek God's forgiveness for even the slightest of offenses? Jesus told us that "the gate is narrow" (Matthew 7:13-14) and that few would find it. Few.
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." - John 3:1-5
Many of todays' theologians and pastors believe we are in the last days before Jesus' return. If Jesus returned tomorrow, would you be ready? The dawn is coming. If we do not place our faith in Christ today it WILL be us who pays the price for our sins tomorrow.
"14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia (184 miles)." - Revelation 14:14-20
Lead Me To The Cross - Hillsong