We have so many new followers on the blog that I want to share this story with you again for those who’ve not heard it. You may be wondering, Why the cross?
Two years ago, I was spending time with the Father (God) outside. Autumn in
Pennsylvania is quite a beautiful time of year. I tell my children that I am spending time with the Father “under the Tree of Life”. I want my relationships and my entire calendar to spring out of that time “under the Tree of Life”.
One morning, the Father asked, “Will you build me a cross and put it up there?” He directed my attention to a tall telephone pole that the previous owners put up in our back yard. It’s a dusk to dawn light so we can see the fields and back yard behind our home at night.
I answered, “Well, Lord, I don’t know how to do that. But sure, I’ll put a cross up there. Please speak to my husband.”
Later I asked my husband, Scott, “I think God’s telling me he wants us to put a cross up there in the back yard. But I don’t know how to build one.”
Scott answered, “I think I can do that.” And so one cold November night as I slept, Scott built a cross in the garage, and nailed two rugged boards together. I’ll never forget when I came downstairs that next morning before dawn. Leaning up against the living room wall was a life-sized wooden cross with white lights glowing all around it. I literally gasped. Tears sprang to my eyes. I found out later that it took him hours to meticulously staple each white Christmas light around the frame of the cross so that each light stuck out to display just right. He didn’t come to bed until 4AM!
I couldn’t wait to see the cross displayed outside in our back yard! Our teenagers helped us raise that cross and tack it onto the telephone pole. (It was a different kind of family project, but one I’m sure they’ll remember for years to come.)
And there is something special about that cross. We put it up in November and kept it up until Easter. That year, 2010, we had terrible winter storms until the snow accumulated more than 30 inches. Day after day I’d look out at a blizzard of blowing white and there was the cross shining through the threatening gray. It was a mystery to me. I still didn’t know why the Lord wanted that cross out there, but I knew we obeyed him. I wrote the following words in my journal:
The Cross in My Backyard
Flurries of cold dance into December’s gray
What the cross, erected in my back yard,
Will endure in the days and weeks ahead.
Its lights continue to shine
And outline a call to reflect on the past
And prepare for the future.
For the work of the cross is a mystery.
It was completed—yet it is active
It was finished—but yet to be seen
Is its power to rally every soul to choice—
Life or death
Remit or retain
Humble or exalt
Believe or reject
Winters coldest fury has not weakened its stance.
Nor can it be engulfed in flames
For its purpose is rooted, more mighty than the cedar,
And its flame hotter than all hell has to offer.
See it flash its message?
Bread of Life
Fragrance of Eternity
Destroyer of the Grave!
Lifter of the dead
Conqueror of Hell
Skeleton key to heaven—one for you and one for me
To have and to hold or
To throw out as waste.
I can no longer sit here
I must move.
I must choose.
I must act on what I truly believe
And mark my address for eternity.
Today is the time
While the key is mine
To keep and to cherish
Or to discard and perish.
This simple act of obedience drew my husband and me closer together. It’s difficult to explain in words, but we sensed that the cross was a light on our hill in more ways than one—that the Holy Spirit was using that cross as His personal “conversation piece” to point people to salvation, people who simply drove by our house. (I often wished I was privy to a few of those conversations.)
Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” I believe when we lift up the cross and display it in some way, it is a reminder to saint and sinner alike to think of Jesus. And it still issues the power to draw people to Christ.