I trekked up the hill to my old “quiet place” to get alone with God. To be alone to allow Him to fill me with peace during an otherwise stressful week. One with deadlines galore, and tasks to be completed before a break could be taken. Time to be reminded of what made this week so holy.
The hill to the three crosses behind our church was certainly not as steep as the hill Jesus climbed on that Friday morning. The trek was not as hard. I did not take a beating on the way up. Nor did I suffer. My “soul was not crushed with grief to the point of death,” as Jesus’ had been (Mark 14:34, NLT)
However, the climb was different than times before. It was littered with a couple stray beer bottles, and once at the top I noticed the middle cross…you know, the one representing Jesus, was broken. Now one wooden pillar in the middle. The wind up here was colder. It didn’t feel as calm and peaceful up here as it once did. It felt eerie. I was sure the serpent, Satan, would at some point come slithering from the tree behind me.
I was jumpy. Agitated. Paranoid. The exact opposite of what I climbed this hill to find.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Mark 15:34, NLT
As Jesus sat kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane, he certainly had to lack peace. As each leaf shook, each branch broke, each breeze blew through the trees; I can imagine in his humanity he must have become jumpy and paranoid from the sounds of those coming to take him to his death.
But when he thought of his purpose, despite the pain, he had peace: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36, NLT).
And what was that will?
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43
Yes. Jesus is the one in the middle. On that broken middle cross that I sat under. But he wasn’t the only cross erected there on that hill that fateful day.
There were two more. One on the left. One on the right.
He came to save them both. But only one went to paradise with him. He came to save us all. But only some will choose him. Some will choose his peace.
Which one are you? Which one are you today?
Do you want to keep saving yourself and stay on the path that leads away from paradise, or come into the kingdom with Jesus?
Which one will you choose?