In the Shadow of the Cross
Step by painful step, I trudge up the rugged hillside. The chains that bind my ankles clink hard and heavy against the stones beneath my feet. I keep my head down in shame and fear, making desperate attempts to deny the fate that awaits me. The weight of my shackles is nothing compared to the burdens that crush my soul. Some days I can barely stand under the pressure of it all. Sin. Pain. Sorrow. Guilt. In anguish I cry from the depths of my heart. Oh, how I long for freedom! But none is to be found. If only there were another way. If only I had another chance. But it’s too late. I’m a dead man walking.
The ground begins to level as I reach the top of the hill. I squint my eyes in the afternoon sun. There in the shadow stands a wooden cross. I pause for a moment before moving toward it. The reality of my imminent death overcomes me, and I fall to my knees in repentance and regret. Through my tears I notice fresh blood in the grass. I follow the trail that leads me to the cross, where pieces of flesh still cling and blood stains red. Knowing that this is soon my death, I turn away. It’s simply too much to bear.
But then in the shadow, I see the light. The Light of the World opening my eyes to the truth.
This blood on my fingers is the blood of Jesus. Instead of me—because of me—spilled out for me. O Lord, if you kept record of sin, who could stand? I now realize this is my death. And yet I’m still alive. How can this be? Hear my voice! I call out in earnest. Be merciful, Lord Jesus; for with you, there is forgiveness. This truth starts to resonate in my soul as I sit quietly in the shadow of the cross.
While I wait for the Lord, the burden begins to lessen and the chains begin to loosen.
Still shaky and unsteady on my feet, I slowly stand up. I look up at the now empty cross, envisioning Jesus still nailed there. As I run my hand over the splintered wood, I feel the hole left by the stake that held his feet. I hear echoes of taunting and wicked laughter. I smell the unmistakable stench of death. I taste the salt of my own tears as I grapple with the magnitude of what has happened in this place.
My wretchedness for Christ’s righteousness.
My sin for his salvation.
My curse for his commendation.
My guilt for his grace.
Here in the shadow I have hope, for with Christ, there is a way. A second chance. For Christ offers steadfast love and overflowing redemption. With Jesus, there is grace: the merciful kindness of God. This amazing and beautiful gift of unearned favor with Almighty God was offered to me because Jesus endured the horrors of sin and incomparable ugliness of death.
Between the light of heaven and the dark of earth stands the cross. In the shadow it stretches high and deep. And in the shadow, I find all that I need. For in the shadow, I find grace.
No more fear. No more guilt. No condemnation now I dread. In the shadow of the cross, I see that his love is longer and wider and higher and deeper than any I’ve ever known. In the shadow I see the Light of Life. For Jesus came to give me life, full and free.
It is for freedom that Christ has set me free!
In this moment, the shackles fall, and so do I, once again overcome. Broken. Humbled. Forgiven. This time the weight of sin is replaced by the weight of glory. Here in the shadow of the cross, I weep tears of joy and sing songs of praise to my beautiful Savior. I open wide my arms and lift my head high.
Jesus loves me, this I know! I step out to allow the radiance of the Son to shine on my face. Because of Jesus, I AM FREE!
My chains are gone, and I now run down the hillside, my steps quick and light, to go back to my home, my family, my life. I leave this place eternally changed and forever grateful, transformed from the inside out. I came here a dead man, yet leave here more alive than ever before! And I can’t wait to share this good news! The world needs to know this Jesus; his amazing grace, his glorious freedom, and his gift of eternal life right now, on this side of heaven—the wonderful truths he revealed to me in the shadow of the cross.