Monday, April 21, 2014

Remember the cross

It happened in an instant. As I walked along the road with Pippy my ears were suddenly met with the unmistakable sound of wind chimes. The rest of the world seemed silent, as if it were listening to the playing of the wind on the high pitched metal rods of the chime. The sound of nature's musical arrangement was carried by the leaves on the trees and ran straight into me. Right there, in the blink of an eye, I was transported away from that street in Erie, Pennsylvania to the home I fell in love with back in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
It was not so long ago, only a couple of years, that I moved to Chagrin Falls believing that I was meant to be in that town, living my fantasy Gilmore Girls life. It all looked like a dream and I jumped at the opportunity to make it a reality. Actually, I pushed, shoved and fought to make it a reality. I wanted that little house, that little life and that little town.
Somehow, that dream did become a reality. There were a million roadblocks and slammed doors that could have stopped me from getting to Chagrin Falls, but despite all the odds, I did end up in that little house, in that little town.
And in that little house I heard chimes. Frequent, noisy, persistent chimes. My neighbor loved them. She had a variety of chimes in an array of pitches, playing harmonic melodies. Any time even the slightest breeze picked up, the chimes would start their refrain. Chimes became the soundtrack of my life in my little house in Chagrin Falls.
Now that I'm living back in Erie, away from the close quarters of village life and an abundant display of wind chimes, I rarely hear the sound of metal and wood clanging together. When I do happen upon such music I am immediately transported back to Chagrin Falls, back to that house and back to the dream that became a reality, and, in turn, ceased to be so dreamy.
Despite the fact that life in Chagrin Falls didn't pan out the way I had hoped and planned, I wouldn't take back those days on May Court. There were lessons to be learned by making that move. Lesson number one, don't be so hasty! And of course, the lesson of appreciating the family and the simplicity of home. These were all lessons I needed to learn and the sound of the chimes reminds me to never forget them.
I'm thankful for the chimes. They take me back to a different place and remind me that what God has revealed to me in the past is meant to be remembered today. I've left Chagrin Falls but I don't want to leave behind the lessons I learned from that town and that experience. Every time I hear a chime I have the opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of my journey to Chagrin Falls and how God used that time in my life to refine me, teach me and hopefully make me more like Jesus.

We all have "chimes" in our life - sounds, sights and smells that take us back to a different time in our lives and a different place in our journey. Sometimes you and I don't want to go back to those past experiences. Maybe they are painful because they ended tragically or maybe they are uncomfortable because they are filled with regret. Our pasts can be messy.
Yet, even the dirtiest of messes and biggest mistakes can be used for good if we let God teach us, mold us and change us through them. Messes can be turned into blessings when God gets a hold of them.

Tomorrow is Easter and there is no greater reminder, no greater "chime," than the Cross of Calvary. Each year when Easter rolls around we are reminded of the greatest gift ever given and the greatest sacrifice ever made: Jesus Christ's death on the cross. The Son of Man bore the sins of the world in His very body, bleeding the blood of sinners and dying the death of a criminal, so that the guilty could go free. The image of the cross serves as a stark reminder of the price paid for the redemption of sinners like you and me. We were destined for eternal damnation and separation from God, but Christ went to the cross so that we could have the hope of eternity in heaven. Jesus carried our guilt and shame on His back up to Calvary and was nailed to the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins. By His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
The cross looks messy. Jesus death wasn't pretty. Every romantic and artistic depiction fails to capture the reality of that cruel death. It was gruesome, tragic, and agonizing. The blood He spilled was real. The pain He felt was acute.
Yet, God did the most glorious work of all through that savage crucifixion. He redeemed the whole human race. Jesus went to the grave for sins and rose victorious, the conqueror over death itself. His work didn't end on the cross. The brutality of man couldn't end His reign. He rose again. He left the tomb. He overcame the grave.
Beloved, as you look upon the cross this Easter let it serve as a shining reminder of the life you have received through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died to save you. He rose to claim you. Sinners like you and like me have the promise of eternal life through the death of our perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. The mess of the cross was the price Jesus had to pay for our redemption. God's masterful plan took the ugliness of that murderous cross and turned it into the most beautiful and precious gift. Through Jesus Christ, there is abundant blessing and eternal life when we turn to the cross and remember the price our Savior paid to set us free.

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