Cross Words, Crossroads, and The Cross

grey wooden cross on mountain

“Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).

Mother reared me with firmness, Dad more gently, but there was never a cross word in the house. I could count my mother’s aphorisms as stern, but I never dared talk back. I learned right from wrong. I knew how and when to behave. But there comes a time when a child must leave safety and family, venture into the wider domain, and be measured. This means choosing.

Each, in his or her own way, must march forth and discover if those parental dictums are true, if there is substance to them or if truth exists at all or not. Every day we confront the same dilemma Cervantes presents between an apparently insane Don Quixote, who went into the world to right all wrongs, mostly imagined and unseen, and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, a simple man, “a little short of salt in the brain-pan,” who sees only what his eyes reveal. Cervantes’ choice is simple, where does madness lie?

Jesus demands we answer the same question. Where does madness lie? Do we too easily rely on what we see, on a reality “a little short of salt in the brain-pan?” Shall we drivel in the trivial, avoiding our higher calling? Do we settle for being just Christian or become fully Christian? These are crossroad questions, Jesus questions, Easter questions. Choice is a hard measure.

My first big test came spending time with Daniel, my friend. Enjoying my days with him, unable to verbalize the incongruity between my observations of him and the prevailing attitudes around town about blacks, I measured my choice. I would like to say it was clear, but clarity always comes last. Ensuing years delivered palpable tests and I would endure epiphany and doubt. Faith demands a few gut-checks before a truth can move from the mind to the heart and find articulation through the hands.

But articulation is the domain of the seeker, the searcher, the decider and the risk-taker who dares the consequence of the unseen, something those who choose to rest in reality never find or have relinquished. If faith is a searching endeavor, and I believe it is, we arrive at the Cross where the only response is a surrendered reverence. Wittgenstein says it well, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

The Cross was unfathomable until I loved God more than self.  My journey there was not so easy.  I failed and stumbled in deceit. But life’s hard measures consecrated my faith. Somehow when my choices proved empty, when the executioner had driven his last nail in my reality, I groaned in pain and began to hope at hope’s end. Faith, at that moment, became a clear, stark, silent assurance.

 And then, the unseen became fully sane to me.

Those who seek are promised to find.

 “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

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