Friday, October 4, 2013
“Until you see the cross as that which is done _by_ you, you will never appreciate that it is done _for_ you.” ― John Scott
Almost thirty years ago, my wife and I were in the West Indies, and she found a 300-year-old, silver, Ethiopian cross that had been worn by a slave brought over from Africa. The man in the antique store selling it had an article in the National Geographic Magazine that showed that exact cross with a story about its age and the tragedy of the slaves killed by working them to death. Karen bought the cross, but had to put it on lay-away for my birthday which was ten months away. Every month she sent money to the island shop until it was all paid for and shipped to her. She got it in July, and even though my birthday wasn't until November (November 14th like Prince Charles of England), she couldn't wait and brought it to me at my church, stuffed into my hand and said, "Happy Birthday." I couldn't have been more pleased. She even had a copy of the National Geographic magazine that had its picture in it. I have worn ever since. I have one other that was a gift from my son in New York that is an exact copy of a 15th Century cross that he bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I wear that one on special days, but the vast majority of the time, it is the Ethiopian cross that I wear. Once, another pastor asked me if there was a story behind that cross, and I couldn't help myself. I said, "Funny you should ask. About 2,000 years ago there was a man named Jesus . . ." Everyone laughed except the pastor. I got it long before I had even thought about being a missionary in Africa, but in the photo at right you can see that I am still wearing it here. It has a special meaning of Jesus' love and my wife's love for me. I was crushed that while in Arusha in September, I lost it while staying at my friend Pete's. We turned the entire place upside down, but--no cross. He called me yesterday to tell me that Christmas was coming in October this year because one of his workers had found the cross. I thanked God immediately and will pick it up when I travel to Arusha to teach in January. It was just a thing, but it was a thing with great sentimental, emotional, and spiritual meaning for me. I may stop by and get it on my way to Dar Es Salaam in December to get my new passport, so it will be in my new passport picture. It's just a cross, but the cross is a symbol of so much and this one has even more meaning for me. It reminds me the way the quote above reminds me. I am saved because someone else suffered.