As I was driving to work today I was listening to some of the hymns I grew up with. As usual I was emotionally moved not from nostalgia but from the message. It is always surprising to me how the words come back to me when I haven’t heard or sung them since my childhood.
Today I was moved by the words to the Fanny Crosby song Near the Cross.
It is written in the form of a prayer and that’s the way it was being sung both by the artist . . . and me.
Nobody knows my failures more than me. I have lived with them daily. I am reminded almost to the point of distraction some days. While I have found God to be full of mercy, love, compassion and grace it has not been so with all human beings. With a majority of people there has been grace but for those closest to my failure it is apparently too painful so they either disappeared, spoke their anger or for a few they may still try to “stay connected” but I am very aware of how hard it must be.
So today as I was singing, “Jesus, keep me near the cross. . .” I began to wonder about that. What cross? Which one? Where at? Who would welcome me to their cross . . . the one in their church? Some of the people I thought I was closest to would rather not have me anywhere near their cross I am thinking. So where does that leave me?
It leaves me with His cross. . . the only one that really matters. Who was around His cross? One disciple out of 12. His mother. A man who lent Him his tomb, a man who helped Him carry His cross, some uninterested soldiers, Mary Magdalene, a possible former prostitute or at least a sinner for sure and two thieves. One of the ungodly soldiers remarked that “surely this was the Son of God.” One of the thieves reached out for grace and received it.
It was not the church because the church of that day had so departed from what God had intended that when the Son of God showed up they had Him crucified. They were the protectors of His grace. They made the rules. They were greatly bothered by Jesus’ annoying habit of reaching out to “bad people.” They wrapped themselves in their righteousness and righteous robes to the point that Jesus tried to remind them that their own righteousness was like filthy rags.
Today I realize there are some crosses I will never see again. I will never have the privilege of visiting in some familiar places or seeing some familiar faces ever again . . . but you know what? It’s okay.
There is a cross . . . His cross . . . and around it there is room for the broken and the hurting. The failures. The disappointments. The frauds. There is room for the hurting who once walked in the way and have clawed there way back to the foot of His cross.
So today . . . I sing. Today I will keep leaning into Jesus. I will continue to pray and do my best to love God and those around me. I’m sorry . . . I’m truly sorry. God is good. God is loving. God loves me and I still have value to God for that I am thankful. Today I sing. . .
Jesus, keep me near the cross, There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream, Flows from Calvary’s mountain
Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star Sheds its beams around me
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand, Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.