This morning I was visiting with a woman I met at church. We were discussing the impact that the Stations of the Cross exhibit had on us. She had an opportunity to visit the display twice. She shared how different both experiences for her, and the lesson she learned from two visits is the reason for this second writing.
I shared in an earlier blog that, as I followed the path illustrating Jesus’ final days, I was struck by the bride’s veil representing Jesus’ plan. He has gone to prepare a place for me, His bride, and will return for me in His time. In retrospect it’s odd that I was stuck by the beauty of a bride’s veil considering the emotional impact of walking through the crucifixion. Jesus, completely and uniquely free of sin, condemned to die for my sins, freely laying down His life. Though He had the power to overcome, he willingly laid down His life for our cumulative sin.
That’s powerful. Yet in this season of my life, the detail that struck me most was the bridal veil. Jesus will return for me, his bride. He has gone to prepare a place for me (okay, honestly… I love my man, but if he plans ahead it is definitely a miracle in, and of, itself). I am the bride Jesus has chosen by revealing his plan of salvation to me, and I accepted His proposal when I confessed faith in Him and belief in His plan. I never had the big, white wedding, so maybe that’s why the bridal veil representing His unfailing love for me struck me so deeply. Jesus has chosen me as his bride, He has gone to prepare a place for me. He will never, ever leave me. He loves me. He knows what is best for me and desires it for me. But He gives me absolute control to choose – the choice is mine. I choose who or what I follow.
So, back to the reason for revisiting this subject. During Easter week while I was quietly contemplating Station Three, imagining Jesus entering the temple courts where people had turned the temple into a market place, I heard the unexpected banging of a hammer. Really? Can’t the church organize its construction around Easter week?
I let it go because I was prayerfully considering the stations I was making my way through, and continued on to the subsequent stations. Eventually I arrived at station eight. There I found a wooden cross bearing nails holding a few crumpled papers, dimly lit in candlelight. I sat in one of the chairs surrounding the scene and read the “Reflection” section of my booklet reserved for Stations Eight:
How would you have responded to the abuse and humiliation Jesus endured? Offense easily gives birth to sin. If someone hurts us, we are tempted to lash out, talk badly about them, or judge them. Jesus set the example of forgiveness and love through the cross.
Take a moment to respond to Jesus’ kindness. Ask God to search you r heart and reveal areas of darkness. As he reveals hidden sin, write it on the red paper. Ask him to forgive you and as a sign of his forgiveness, crumple the paper and nail it to the cross. Take a moment to celebrate God’s mercy and grace. Thank him for freedom from sin and death through Jesus Christ.
As you accept Jesus’ forgiveness, take a moment to remember people who have wounded you. Take another piece of paper and write, “Father, forgive them.” Take time to share the pain they have caused you. Ask God to bring healing into your heart and choose forgiveness as you crumple the paper and nail it to the cross.
The hammer we assumed was part of a construction crew took on a whole new meaning after Station Eight. Hearing it before Station Eight, we assumed an interruption in our experience. As we moved beyond this station, each time we heard hammering, we knew that someone was nailing their sin to the cross of Jesus. They were also forgiving someone who has sinned against them, nailing their request to the cross.
From irritation (assuming disrespect and poor timing) to reverence for the work God was doing on someone’s heart – all resulting from the perspective of my very limited insight.
Lord, help me refrain from judging! Only you know how you are working in the lives of others!