Gazing Upward



Every year, as Easter approaches, I find myself swept up in the anticipation and glory of Christ’s resurrection. But I’ve also discovered that it doesn’t have quite as significant of an impact on me if I don’t walk through the agony of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s almost as if I become so used to talking about Christ’ atoning work that I become desensitized to what he actually endured to save me and all humankind. A few days ago, a friend sent me an encouraging email as we awaited our travel approval, and she pasted in this prayer. It so perfectly articulated what I had been thinking the day before…

God, this is the beginning of Holy Week. My heart isn’t ready for the
terrible loneliness and dread that Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane,
when He asked if this cup might be taken from Him. My heart isn’t ready for
the wrenching contradictions of the Last Supper, or the burning injustice
and horrors of Friday’s crucifixion. Help me, O God, not to leap over this
terrible, yet holy time. Help me not to skip over the agony of defeat,
before I run to the empty tomb to hear the good news of Easter’s
resurrection. Forgive me when I want cheap grace. Forgive me when I forget
the agony and sacrifice of Your only begotten Son. Before I rise to new
life in Christ, I know that I, too, must deny myself and take up my cross
and follow Him. Strengthen me, O God, for I need Your strength to do it.
Amen. (by Dr. James H. Daughdrill, Jr., Prayers At Work)

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to find ways to “reacquaint” myself with the horror of Jesus’ torture and death so that is has true meaning for me. Sometimes I’ve watched The Passion, or just a few clips from it. One year, I read Rachel’s Tears, the journal of the 16-year-old Columbine student who was shot to death by two classmates for standing up for her Christian convictions. Another time, I listened to an audio recording of the ending chapters of the Gospel of Mark. Just listening to the words read aloud brought them to life. Seven or eight years ago, I first heard the song “Why” by Nichole Nordeman, and I cried for about 20 minutes after it ended.

If you’ve never heard it, I encourage you to listen to it below. I have embedded two Youtube versions….the first has the lyrics so you can read them as you listen. The second has clips from The Passion and may prove to gory for you (or your children) to watch. The song is just under 6 minutes (just stop it at that point on the 2nd video), and I know that’s long. But I promise you will be touched by the lyrics written by an amazing musician and Christian. As we move into Good Friday, let us not be too quick to jump into Easter celebration. We need to remember what Christ did for us…….I am bewildered and humbled every year. Thank you Lord Jesus for such an indescribable act of love!



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