GENDUSA COLUMN: The simple structure on the hill

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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When I approach the Easter season, my mind does not immediately envision the joyous day Christ rose, but instead the day He died.  When I think of myself below the cross, watching him suffer as nails spear his flesh and his tears fall to the dry earth, I am filled with sorrow and dismay that human hearts could sink to such despicable levels.

Jesus used his short mortal life to teach us the ways of love, kindness, mercy, compassion, selflessness and faith. With the touch of his hand, he healed folks from disease, darkness, and despair. Christ taught us that the wicked ways of judgemental thinking, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy only harm us and that forgiveness mends us. He preached to those who would listen, and he prayed for those whose ears only heard lies and whose eyes were blinded by power.

The son of God was tortured and crucified by hardened hearts which couldn’t see who He was.

Would Jesus die the same barbaric way if he were to come to the earth today and lead the same life? Would we recognize him and treat him differently?

To see Christ begins with viewing the structure on the hill. Hopefully, there are times when many of us finally decide to fall to the feet of the cross and meet our Savior.  This iconic symbol rises to the sky above our churches, is the primary focus in all Christian sanctuaries and is the key to recognizing Jesus.

It is a personal journey to arrive at the cross. For some, it is a crawl from our life’s lowest point to grab Christ’s hand so that he can pull us from our drowning sorrow. For others, it is a long-held belief that began early, as if they were born with the knowledge that Christ was king. But no matter how one comes to know the savior, there are still times we all need saving.

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t believe in God. Yet, there are many times I stumbled and required God’s support to stand again on solid ground.

In a bomb torn Ukrainian village this Sunday morning, folks braved the journey to their churches. Bodies, debris and chaos littered the earth around them. Their lives have been on the brink of death each day for over a month.  Yet, they walk to find comfort and hope at the feet of the cross.

In desperation, they pray for peace and freedom from evil.

Their faith in what they cannot see helps heal the horror of what they have seen. They believe life will return no matter if death takes them away. Does their horrendous plight deter them from their love of God? No. They know with certainty, without faith, that the enemy always wins. They clearly recognize the son of God as He walks beside them on their horrific journey.

Many of us are blinded by the glitz and glamor of life. We fall short when we don’t put the teachings of Christ front and center. I know I do. Temptation, money, fame, power, greed and ego are a few dangling carrots that can pull us away from our savior. But when all we have is destroyed, and there is nothing left, the only thing remaining is the old cross beckoning us to return home.

Imagine that you are attending a church service this morning in Ukraine. You are hungry and cold, and all your earthly possessions are discarded. You are not sure where your relatives are or if you will see them again. How do you feel?

Compassion is necessary for us to understand the plight of others. Loving others is how we fight evil and come to the feet of the cross. Christ gave his life out of love and compassion for us. Empathy and understanding of all God’s people are precisely how we recognize Him. 

“Faith” is the title of a chapter in my latest book.  My friend and artist, Michaele, asked me what scene I envisioned to illustrate the chapter.

“Oh, this one is so easy!’ I exclaimed.  “Draw a massive simple cross on a hill. Then place me below, alone, with my arms reaching up to its power.”  I have the art framed on my desk today, and it is the entire story of my life. How often have I felt isolated on the barren ground only to find that the cross was still powerfully there to pull me to my feet? Too many to count.  Would I recognize Christ today? You bet! I know Jesus didn’t remain on the cross; he lived on to be with me daily and be with all who turn to view the simple structure on the hill.