I inherited the wood from my sons who were going to haul it away but got married instead and what man remembers old rugged wood beams when he's got a bride?
I dug through the drawers trying to find where I'd stashed garden gloves from last year and found one. But one was enough, sort of. Enough for now, because now I'm motivated to straighten the wood and that hasn't happened before and may not happen again for another season.
Bent at waist, not wanting to get too close, I lift an end of two-by-four and peek under. I'm ready to drop it and jump back because there could be spiders under there. Or snake. Or not.
Not. I take firm grip with gloved hand and "sleeved" hand and my hoodie may forever have one arm longer than the other, and I pull. I pull harder. I dig heels in and full weight lean back and so much for thinking I'll just carry the two-by-fours over my shoulder like Paul Bunyan and build me a wood pile!
No I dig heel, lean, drag and like that feel the heaviness of wood.
And I wonder, "Just how heavy was the cross?"
It wasn't one two-by-four. It was thicker. And it was crossed at the top. And surely it tipped heavy and wobbled uungainly to one side and then to the other as Jesus' gait shifted from one foot to the other.
I stop pulling. Just stand with this two-by-four leaning against me. I feel it in my hands and it presses against my chest and pins me immovable and, "The cross was so heavy!" The thought leans hard against soul.
I pull my sleeve down secure over left hand and drag wood. There are so many pieces and these are too heavy for me. I go to the old fence slats. They are heavier than they look and there are nails and splinters and I want to call my sons and compel them to do this for me!
I just plant my feet in the gravel and am overwhelmed. It's too much. Too heavy. Too splintery. Too naily. And I don't know if it was my thought or His because sometimes our thoughts get all mingled together, but "Who paints their fence the color of blood?"
"Huh," The air hangs between breaths.
There is a rickety section that looks like a piece of gate. There are no nails in it except for those holding it together. It's artistic in a rugged kind of way. It's leaning against a tree at side of garage and, "It's gate! Against tree!"
I touch it. Feel the beaten roughness beneath my fingers. Old crimson paint mostly worn off by time.
"Jesus," I ache His name out. Because He is the gate. And the Gate was beaten rough and bled stain and leaned hang against tree. "Oh, Jesus."
I wrap my arms around this piece of gate and carry it through hinged gate leading to garden and lean it against brick wall there where I can see it from kitchen window. Later I would place three birds crafted from metal. One red. One blue. One green. Because birds fly in the heavens. Free.
And I'm free because He was beaten rough and stained crimson so I could fly free. Free from sin that weighs heavy.
Why didn't one of His disciples offer to carry the cross when He could not? Why a foreigner? An on-looker compelled by soldiers? Compelled because he had no reason to offer. Compelled because he was strong. And the cross wasn't too heavy for his body. And it wasn't too heavy for His soul. But it would have crushed disciple soul.
The cross is heavy. Still. Because it's saturated.
Saturated by sin.
Saturated by Jesus' blood.
Saturated by glory.
What happened to the cross after Jesus said, "Forgive them, Father," and "It is finished!"? And after He descended into hell and conquered death and rose back to life and gave us His Holy spirit before He went back home to His Father? What happened to the cross?
Did it dry up? Did it? In a way? Because the damning power of sin and hell dried up when Jesus went there Himself and took the keys of hades and overcame death by the power of His name? That's all it took. Just His name. Jesus. And the cross isn't heavy with sin anymore because it's not there hanging there on it anymore.
"Take up your cross, and follow Me." I've read it so many times before and, I will say, I've never really been sure about which cross because isn't there only one cross? Is that what it means? Take up the cross that Jesus bore sin on 'til He died and took away sin? If it is, then it's not very heavy.
It's not heavy! It's not! It can't be, because He's not telling me to take up the weight of my sin on His cross. He's telling me to take up the weight of His glory there. And that's all grace.
"Take up your cross, and follow Me."
It's glory saturated to follow grace. And grace saturated to take up His glory. And I don't know how it works. Maybe it can't be explained. Maybe to try to explain it would be to take up a burden where miracle, just miracle, is meant. And is.
It's the only way I can follow Him. By His grace.
Birds on Slats
The two-by-fours and splintery slats are still stained and nails are still in them. They are still laying all scattered in gravel and I've removed glove and hoodie arm is stretched out all misshapen long and I didn't do what I set out to do. "Jesus," I admire the gate, "saturate me in Your glory. Please."
"Take up your cross."
I'm looking out kitchen window at the birds on the leaning gate.
"Glory is weight. Forgiveness is lift. Now, fly!" He knows I'm looking at the birds I placed there. I think about His words because it takes both weight and lift to fly. It does!
He doesn't pound us with the cross or with our sin. He was pounded to the cross for our sin. And maybe the old rugged wood beams are distant memory for Him, because He's got a bride?
And these are my thoughts this Resurrection Sunday.
written by: Carolyn Roehrig