I love the British Isles. Lived there as a kid, did my senior year of high school in a boarding school north of London and have visited many times since. While I delight in the English countryside, the quaint villages, the flower pots and row houses shoved together, I really enjoy crawling through castles.
Even if the castle is just a pile of ruins I love wandering around the stone walls. And one of my favorite places to climb around is a tower. Those structures were built to secure the manor and all who lived there. Interestingly, the common feature in almost all the towers is the cross shaped cut out from which the arrows would fly.
Defenders would stand for hours looking out through those slits, trying to see the enemy as they approached. Modern life has a comparable feature. It’s not a literal slit in the stone, but we all do spend a lot of time staring off into the future, contemplating our lives.
As you read this musing, we will have just about ten days left before Palm Sunday and Passion Week begins. It occurs to me that we all might need to spend some concerted time contemplating a cross-shaped vision for life.
500 years ago, Isaac Watts wrote some 600 hymns including one entitled “Crucifixion to the World by the Death of Christ.” It was originally meant to be part of a communion service. It has been renamed and you and I know it as the glorious hymn, “When I Survey the Wonderous Cross.”
No doubt Watts had a cross-shaped vision in mind as he wrote these words: “When I survey (contemplate) the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.”
It is an old hymn that still speaks loudly today. Staring out into the challenges of everyday activities, we have a choice. We either see them through the lens of God’s sovereignty or endlessly worry about the outcomes. When we encounter the painful parts of life, we again have a choice, see them through the crossed shaped opening, or question the love of the Father.
So as we approach Passion Week, let’s consider the incredible value of having a cross-shaped vision of life. Let’s think through the events of those seven days and hopefully prepare ourselves to echo the end of that precious hymn.
May our song be: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”