On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. You may recognize this first verse of the classic hymn by George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross. This sums up for a lot of people, the Easter message. To a lot of people Easter is about Jesus and how they approach the cross, from a distance, from far away, from a position of intrigue but without intent, at arms length and not with arms wide open. This is not wrong, it just is.
The Easter message is a message of hope, of life, of power, of comfort, of salvation and of grace. It fulfills our aching longing in our faithless heart, the space where Jesus can live and create and liberate, if only we would let him in. If only we would have the courage to tell others. Why are we so afraid? What scares us? What am I afraid of?
This Easter I have the honour and privilege of talking with a whole bunch of young people about Jesus at an Easter Camp in Waikato, New Zealand. I hope to talk to them about my relationship with my Jesus. How he is the breath we breathe, how he is the rest we need for the rest of our life, and how if only, we would believe in him, we would enter into the best part of the rest of our life, his rest, and his eternal hope of glory.
This is what I hope to talk about. God of course, may have other ideas. I’m open to this. Actually I’m not open to it – I’m really scared. I’m a planner, it’s my job, it’s what I do, it’s how I approach life. Plan it, then build it, and they will come. I’m trying really hard not to plan my message, but I have. Now I need to be prepared to throw it all away if this is what God wants and talk about something else – God’s plan – not mine. More of him, less, much less of me. How will I do this? By faith I guess. I’m so excited and so scared and afraid all at the same time.
All I really know for sure is that God will be with me, because:
- I dare to believe in a God I cannot see.
- I dare to put my faith in a God that is way bigger than my ego, and my selfish ways
- I dare to stick with my faith, when things get tough – when I can’t explain why people die of cancer or are about to, when I can’t explain why I might be next, when I have no answers left. When I have so many questions.
I need to be true in what I believe, whatever that really means. I need to believe in a God so much that it aches in every fibre of my being. Because in that moment, in that moment of truth where my faith crashes into my life – a strange and beautiful exchange happens. This is what Easter and the cross means to me. And so:
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So what about you my friend? What does Easter mean to you? Will you share your experience – your message, your story. Why not be real and share it here or somewhere this week. Dare you. Your words may be the difference for someone who deperately needs to hear the greatest story ever told – the message of Easter.
Wishing you a blessed Easter my friend.
For my affliction you gave me beauty
For my gain you took my loss
For my sin you gave your son
Upon that rugged cross
For my friends you gave your life
For my gain you took my loss
For my world has ever changed
Because of the rugged cross
So as I speak your word today
As you seek to find the lost
For my king and my Lord
Let me speak about the cross.
Do you know that Jesus loves you?
For this I know is true
All you have to do tonight
Is believe – he died for you