We sat in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. The kids were all tucked into bed dreaming of early rising and gifts overflowing. There would be no late night visits tonight. No “Mama, Daddy, I need a drink of water.” They were down for the night. The one night of the year we are guaranteed a peaceful evening. No one wants to mess with Santa’s arrival. No one.
It was in the peace under the flicker of lights where he handed me the white leather box.
“I want you to have this tonight,” my warrior whispered in my ear. I slowly opened the smooth lid, a wide grin covered my face. I saw the shimmer of the gold, speckled with diamonds. A heart wrapped around a cross. I had never owned or worn a cross – new territory for this late bloomer. I was 37 years old but felt brand new in this season of awakening. I had never known about the One who poured out His heart, soul, and blood on the cross for me. Although I had known His story all my life, I had not known Him. I didn’t realize He had been pursuing me even through my wild youth and aimless wandering.
“I love what your faith is doing for our family,” my warrior murmured as he smiled into my eyes. It was new for both of us. We had been down the road of rules, regulations, restrictions, and religion. All that changed in the fall of 2007 when our faith was transformed from a list of things to do into a relationship with Jesus. We all have our stories of arrival – our tales of seeking or straggling. We all have our stories of this relentless God who pursues us as passionately as He died – and rose again.
I placed the cross around my neck. It glistened in the glow of midnight, and I felt the weight of it burrow into my seeking spirit. I wore it every day for many years. I wanted it as a family emblem, to remind us all of what we had become. I wanted the cross around my neck to speak for me. It made it easier to keep my own words to myself. My declaration of rebirth and faith could quietly float in my thoughts while the cross hung around my neck. I wouldn’t have to say a word, would I? It was easy to slip behind the comfort of my cross and keep my lips closed. No need to speak the uncomfortable words of God’s saving grace when His grace is hanging around your neck, right?
It came time for us to move…we are a military family. Boxes and bins and mementos and memories were sorted and stacked. I reached for a bin in the back storage closet when the antique white gold symbol of His sacrifice snagged and snapped. The chain survived. The arm of the cross bent to a crooked and wounded angle. And I cried.
We didn’t have the time or money to fix my cross of security. So I took it off. I stood, neck bare, realizing the question before me – Can I carry my faith to a broken world without carrying the cross around my neck? Can I open my mouth about my faith, about our God, about His Holy Son, and the sacrifice on the cross? Will I lose my follow-through between the cross and the door?
It was time to live my faith out loud. The quiet dangling cross on my neck couldn’t speak the words He put on my lips. It was time to live my faith – not just wear it. And I did. With each word, each conversation, each sentence typed at midnight and published with shaking hand and heart-churning prayer – with each step toward the door carrying the cross, He carried me.
This life – living the cross – brings us face down at His feet time and time again. It’s when we hear His whisper, “Get up. Follow me,” that we can stand and move beyond the Son of Man on the cross to the resurrected Savior on the other side.