At the Foot of the Cross Where My Heart Is Torn in Two

the cross

I went to the foot of the cross during a prayer meeting at church a number of years ago. I knelt there, rested my hand on the wood, and bowed my head.  I knew it wasn’t the actual cross Jesus was crucified on, but I imagined it was:

I imagined Jesus looking down at me as He suffered, His blood running down and flowing over the rough, splintered wood before reaching my fingertips. I sobbed, imagining His face swollen and beaten, His eyes mere slits. But He was able to see me as I knelt there, my heart tearing in two.  I hated the idea of His suffering and at the same time, I was so deeply thankful because I knew He was saving me in a way I never could.

As He hung there struggling to breathe, agonizing in ways I could never imagine, I wondered if my being at the foot of the cross, perhaps, brought Him a small moment of comfort. Perhaps He saw me here at this moment two thousand years later, surrendering my heart to Him, my King, the Lover of my Soul; my heart was torn in two, wide open for Him to enter in.

I gave Him then, as I do today, all of my brokenness and my torn heart because I love Him with all that I am, all that I have to give.

My God. My God.  How I adore and honor Your Son!  How I want to take Him in my arms and hold Him and take away His suffering as a mother does for her child and ease the agony of my own heart that breaks.  And yet, I know He is King and it must be this way.  I cannot rescue Him for He is the One who rescues me.

My Savior, Jesus, My King. How I worship You and honor You! I fall here at the foot of Your cross and I cry out to You with thanksgiving.  Thank You for taking the punishment that was mine.  Thank You for carrying this overwhelming burden for me.  It would have suffocated me the moment I tried to carry it.

And thank You for loving me in such a way I can’t possibly fathom but only humbly accept and cherish, treasuring it in my heart and holding it as close as my own breath.

One day, Jesus, I will run to You as I’ve imagined in my dreams, and I will throw my arms around You to thank You. Perhaps I will give You such a bear hug like I’ve never hugged anyone before.  Perhaps I will kiss Your cheek, hoping to remove the sting of betrayal from Judas, replacing it with deep adoration as joyful tears soak both of our faces.  Or perhaps I’ll collapse before You and fall apart, sobbing at Your feet because there is no way I can ever thank You or love You enough.

I imagine at that moment You’ll help me to stand and You’ll take me in your arms and hold me, letting me cry and whispering in my ear words I can’t hear or even imagine just yet. Oh, the sound of your voice so near and the warmth of your arms.  I know I will be loved more deeply than ever before, the shadow of the cross behind You and light reflecting from You as You lead me into eternity in Your arms.  Those arms that hurt for me, that hurt for all of Your children, so long ago.  You wanted to hold us, and the cross was the only way.

The cross was the only way. And so today I kneel here in my heart at the foot of the cross, tears falling freely again, as I see You there, suffering for me. I bow my head and from my torn heart I cry until it splits open even deeper, widening the depths of my heart to love You even more.

Thank you, Jesus.

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23: 44-46 NIV.)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 NIV.)

I originally wrote this post a few years ago. I can’t add or change anything. I still feel the exact same way – Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.


Do You Want a Spark or a Flame?


Are you just getting by, barely hanging on? Does it seem like life is tossing you back and forth like a ping-pong ball? Or perhaps it seems the enemy is constantly hanging around, discouraging you and lying in your ear, making you feel like you’re a big fat failure and you can’t do anything right.

My dear friends, keep going! Press on! Stand strong!

Does it seem like I’m yelling at you? I am! (But not in a bad way. Keep reading.)

When I was reading Scripture this morning, I found a note I’d written a long time ago, asking myself the question:

“Do you want a spark or a flame?”

I don’t know about you, but I want a flame. A big roaring flame! I want to set the world ablaze with all that God wants to do through me. I want to be bold. Obey. Stand strong. Press on. Reach and grab onto my heavenly Father with all that I’ve got and never let go.

And that’s what I want for YOU.  (See, that’s why I was “yelling.” 🙂 )

If you feel at odds with so many things in life right now, like you’re being squeezed, don’t let worldly worries suffocate you. Don’t let the enemy make you fearful or discourage you. Press in closer to God.

You see, a spark is nice. It can be the start of something powerful.

But a flame, well, the flame shines bright. The flame is God’s power working through you now. The flame refuses to back down because of the darkness. The flame does not fear the darkness but dispels it, disarming it.

The flame doesn’t whimper in the corner, fearing the darkness will overtake it or afraid of overstepping boundaries. The flame doesn’t pull back but pushes forward. The flame roars and is bold, swelling and growing because of the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. The flame hushes only to listen to the voice of God and no other.

But you and I, we have to do our part. We have to be obedient. We have to seek God above all else. We have to fan the flame. We have to trust in the power, the direction of Almighty God, and not try to contain the flame He sets ablaze in our hearts out of fear of offending others or losing control.

When we give control of our lives over to God, surrendering it all to Him, that’s when the world will see Him in us. And that’s when He can use us powerfully.

“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NLT.)

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV.)

(Photo from Pexels.)



The Ride of Our Lives



My husband was driving and our daughter was in the backseat as I held the map and “helped” watch for danger on the highway. (Note: I help by pointing everything out, overreacting by slamming my foot to the invisible brake on the passenger-side floorboard, and driving everyone around me nuts. Basically.)

But dangers on the road are all too real. You and I know that. We have to watch for drivers texting, deer or armadillos (still waiting to see a LIVE one) making the mad dash to the other side, and airplanes.

Yes, you read that right. Airplanes.

We could see the small plane miles up ahead, and I can honestly tell you I thought it was a drone or a remote controlled plane someone was using to scare drivers by dive-bombing them.

But the closer we got, the more we could see it was not a teeny tiny plane someone was maneuvering with a remote control, but a life-sized one, circling the highway and disappearing behind a group of trees.

It appeared, circled around again, and plummeted, aiming for the other lane of traffic. My hand went to my mouth, and I gasped.

But the plane didn’t crash. (Thank you, Lord!) And when we drove past the group of trees, we could see the pilot was actually in full control, crop dusting.

It made me think about God and how He is in full control of our lives.  But some of us (ahem…me) think they know what’s going on. We trust our eyes or our minds and think we have it all figured out when really, we don’t have a clue.

It’s easy to trust what we see, but it’s not always right. It’s easy to believe the plan we have in our minds must be what God put there because we want it so much. But that’s not always the case.

His plan is always going to be better. Easy? Probably not. Worth all the gasping and holding on and crying out to Him? Absolutely.

We may even feel like we’re plummeting to the ground and can’t stop ourselves from crashing, like the controls are broken and we can’t set things straight.

But wouldn’t it be like God to rescue us just when we’re about to give up and into despair, thinking it’s all over?

When we finally let go of our measly remote controls and surrender to Him, we’ll know without a doubt the rescue, the honor, and the glory all belong to Him.

All we have to do is trust Him, lean in closer, and hang on for the ride of our lives.

“My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbor-God – So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” (Psalm 62:7-8 MSG.)

(Photo from Pexels)




A Soaring Kite: Being Used by God


I remember landing a job with a tiny book publishing business many years ago. I was thrilled, believing it would give me more insight into the whole business of writing and publishing.

But my first day on the job was a real eye opener. I had a pickup truck and the two owners needed their only employee (that was me) to move some furniture from their office back to their house (they also lived together). And I was told this sort of thing would probably happen again.

I drove home that day feeling used. I wasn’t hired because I have a deep respect for writing and would take publishing books seriously.

I was hired because they needed someone with a truck to move their furniture.

Being used is an awful feeling. Your mind starts out in a hot air balloon, dreaming about the possibilities of an opportunity or relationship only to have reality come along like a prehistoric pterodactyl (okay, so that’s not reality but you get the point), shredding your balloon and sending you plummeting down into a forest of briars. You survive, of course, but you walk away bleeding and pretty banged up.

And you tell yourself it’s never going to happen again. You will not allow yourself to be taken advantage of again. You’ll pay more attention next time. You’ll think things through. You promise yourself to stay on the ground and avoid the hot air balloon ride of dreaming big about such-and-such or so-and-so.

So you take a seat on a rock overlooking a cliff and you watch as others begin to hike in all sorts of directions on rocky and grassy paths. And you shake your head as you notice others climbing aboard their hot air balloons. Maybe you even say a little prayer for them. After all, you know what it feels like to be used and how hard the fall hurts.

You decide you’d rather sit on this rock all day (all week, all year) and play it safe than risk something painful like that again.

But what if Someone wants to use you for something awesome? What if there is Someone who doesn’t want to hurt you but wants you to experience something greater than you can dream and lift you higher than any hot air balloon ride?

That Someone would be God.

He’s been teaching me something lately:  At the end of all of my dreams, all of my past and painful experiences, all of my let downs and past failures – at the place where all of those things collide with my total surrender, the throwing-my-hands-up-in-the-air and admitting, “I don’t know how to figure my life out or fix things or what I’m supposed to do, Lord” – in the middle of those things crashing together, God can make sense out of all of it and use it. And He can use me.

It’s like He can tie our broken past and experiences and use them like the tails on a kite. Those things we thought were a waste of time or too painful (or too embarrassing) to use and should be stashed somewhere are the very things He can use to keep us humble and draw us closer to Him. And they are the very things He can use to help us soar.

When God uses us like that, taking all of our messes and pain and lifting us up for His glory, there’s no telling what the view is going to be like. We may be clueless while we’re standing on the ground. But when we lift off and we know God is the One holding the kite string and He’s the One providing the wind, we learn what freedom feels like.

We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to figure everything out. We don’t have to be afraid we’re going to get hurt again.

As the Holy Spirit moves us and flows in and around us, as He leads us and guides us and we let go of control (we’re not trying to grab the string away from Him), we can see that being used by God is actually a beautiful and exhilarating thing.

There’s no noise here. No distractions. We don’t worry about pleasing people or letting them down. We don’t look to them for approval anymore and we don’t stress over things we can’t control or figure out. And we don’t worry that God is going to hurt us.

You see, being used by God isn’t like being used by a person. With a person, he (or she) is going to want something from you without giving you much (if anything) in return. Sometimes he will take and take until you feel completely drained, hollowed out, and empty. But with God, He only asks for you to let go of the kite string and He gives you so much more:

Pure and lovely freedom to experience more of Him in ways and places you never even knew existed.

Don’t try to bury or ignore your past failures and don’t be afraid to surrender them to God and admit you can’t figure it all out or fix it. That’s the very place God wants to meet with you.

And that’s the sweet spot where He is going to use you and lift you to new heights, revealing one breathtaking view.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV.)




God Uses You While You’re Waiting


How many times have you waited in line, annoyed and in a hurry? You know what I’m talking about. Your mind is spinning with all the things you need to do and you get to the only checkout line that is open and there is a lot (a LOT) of stuff on the conveyor belt and the cashier is really in no hurry. No hurry whatsoever.

You get irritated, right? Maybe a little annoyed? I mean, you’ve got things to do. You don’t have all day to stand there waiting.

I’ve definitely been there, unfortunately, and I’m not proud of the times I probably huffed and acted like a spoiled brat. (Forgive me, Lord.)

But this past Saturday was different.

I went to a little store not far from home to buy a card. Yep. That’s it. I went to the only checkout line that was open and saw exactly what I described earlier. The couple in front of me had the conveyor belt loaded with a tower of stuff wobbling when the belt moved forward. But the sun was shining into the store, and I shooed away my to-do list that was buzzing around my mind like an irritating little pest. (Boy did that feel good!)

I was in line for a really long time, but I had such peace. Strange, huh?

Finally I paid for my cards (did I mention I found two?) and stepped out the door, the sunlight warming my skin. I drove home with the windows cracked for a little fresh air while listening to some music that soothed my soul. Everything was just fine.

As I approached my turn, a big ol’ pickup truck coming from the opposite direction made the turn ahead of me. I wondered why the driver took the turn so wide, but when I saw him I knew why: he had his face buried in his phone.

I turned and followed him onto this winding country road, dandelions swaying as we drove by. When he started driving in the middle of the road, I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and began praying, “Lord, please don’t let him hurt anyone.” And when he started to drive uphill on a blind curve, still in the middle of the road, I found myself pleading, “Please, Lord. Please.”

I realized in the very next moment who I was praying for when a man on a motorcycle came down the hill.

The truck swerved, barely missing him, and barreled up the hill. From where I sat, it was as if God slowed the motorcycle down with one hand and scooted the truck over with the other; as if both were chess pieces in His hands.

Two lives would have instantly changed in that moment had God not intervened.

But God did step in. He used a stay-at-home momma in a ball cap, delayed her at the store and gave her peace while waiting and for the drive home so she wouldn’t hurry, and nudged her to pray. And then, He answered that prayer and allowed her to see it with her own eyes. Thank you, Lord.

I realize now the moments we sometimes see as annoying or slow-going can be the very situations God wants to use us in.

I’m sure you’ve been there. You’ve talked to a woman in a checkout line because there was a really, really long line. Perhaps she was lonely and God used you to encourage her. Or maybe you had an extra-long wait in the doctor’s office and talked to a man who was terrified of getting back the results from a test. But God used you to comfort the man, to help him in his waiting.

You may not always see how God is using you. It might not always be so clear or fast as His mighty hand reaching down to stop an accident in front of you. But you can be sure that He will use you if you ask Him, if you surrender your times of waiting to Him.

Who knows? You may even get to see Him perform a miracle before your very eyes.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” (Ephesians 6:18a NLT.)

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV.)