As we enter the season of Lent, the world around us is embroiled in a great spiritual battle. Lines are drawn, salvation is at hand and souls are at risk. Lent, a time of penance and repentance, is spent at the foot of the cross.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)
The draw of silence approaches with the Lenten season. The crisp, cool air of spring and the aroma of freshly blooming sweet olive bushes are welcome distractions as the heaviness and full weight of Christ’s passion enters the man’s soul. How long has it been since his Lord left him in darkness? The black darkness signaling the cleansing of his soul or is it? Like the centurion, he believes. He believes in the redemption of the Cross.
At the foot of the cross, the man understands, his life is changed, guided, and strengthened.
Entering the church, he pushes against the dark stained, solid oak, sixteen foot tall doors. Responding to the weight of his body straining against the massive door, the door resists and then give way in a lurch allowing his entry into this place of peace and meditation. His heart beat quickens once again as its deep thumping inside his chest draws the man to the foot of the cross. His Savior looks down at him from the cross lovingly, passionately calling to him. Reminding him that eternal bliss is the free gift given to all who love Him.
Looking up from his place settled beneath the cross, he can see into the deep charcoal eyes of Christ. Like shards of broken crystal, blood drips and glistens from the glorious thorny crown participating in the redemption of all humanity. A radiating light from the black abyss of Christ’s eyes blinds the man to the outside world as he is drawn up into the inmost being of his Lord.
Over the boom, boom, boom of his own heartbeat, he can hear his name being called with the simple request, “Come follow me.” (Matthew 4:9)
The man’s soul responds and follows the voice which is calling out to his spirit.
Within the recesses of the his soul, appears a veiled, weeping mother kneeling at the top of Golgatha. She has lost her only son. Her heart has been pierced. (Luke 2:35) Raspy, struggling words can be heard from the man hanging on the cross, “Behold, your mother.” (John 19:27) These words of infinite meaning are spoken to a young, baby faced man, who bows his head in assurance. The young man’s furrowed brow indicates wisdom beyond his years.
Soon, the earth trembles, splits and erupts in terror as the demons of hell scream in anger at their failure.
The man’s soul responds, “Is this it Lord? Is this what I have waited in darkness all the long months for?”
In response the man hears, “There is more. Look deeper.”
Averting his eyes away from the black infinite pools of his Lord’s eyes, the man’s soul shivers in fear, asking, “Can I bear it, Lord?”
Christ’s soothing voice flows through the air warming it with His breath, “You are free to choose, but I will it.”
With trepidation, looking into the blissful eyes once again, the man asks again, “Can I bear it? I am afraid. What is it You want me to see?”
In a loving baritone voice, sounding more beautiful than any grand symphony, Christ responds, “You can bare it. Come see the battle, come see for whom I hung on this tree.”
Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, (Revelation 12:7)
In the distance a great battle is being fought for souls. A battle between the forces of darkness and Light. Beyond the battle, sits the Son on His eternal throne of judgment. Glorious, beautiful and radiating a Light of perfect in brilliant colors beyond the man’s imagination. Behind the Son are legions of angels and saints praying for those embroiled in the great final battle.
To the west, beasts of darkness seek to corral confused or hardened human souls. The hideous beasts covered in the twisted truth of earthly temptation, a cloak of lies. Beneath the cloak hides repulsive, deformed creatures tortured by their own hatred and rejection of God and His infinite love.
To the east massive angels, twelve feet in height, guard and guide souls toward the judgment seat. The beauty of the angels causes the man to pause, holding his breath, he asks, “What is this?”
The Savior responds from His cross, “Humanity is at war with what is a True and Good. Many souls are being lost to their own need for pleasure.”
Without another word the man’s troubled soul continues on. The magnificence of the angels is beyond description. Powerful, yet gentle, joyful, yet stern, loving and yet fierce as they protect their charges. The souls are adorned in white, red or gray gowns that glimmer like the stars.
Exhaling from the torture of His cross, His words flow with His spirit, “The souls in white gowns, perfected through the long dark night of their own existence, are the fewest in number. The demons tremble in fear and hatred at these future saints. The souls in red have given their lives for the Truth. The largest numbers are the souls in glimmering gray gowns. These souls carry their crosses toward perfection.”
The man, shocked at the numbers, states in a questioning tone, “But there are so few in the east compared to the west?”
Looking into the face of God, the man can see the red blood of life begin to increase its flow. Steady trickles down from the wounds of the crown to the foot of the cross and flowing outward on humanity with great urgency to those in the west. The demons screech and scatter at the sight of the streams of crimson Love. His Love, utterly rejected by those in the west, flows into the dark chasm that separates east and west and fills the battlefield between the forces of darkness and Light.
The souls of east and west march on toward the judgment of their choices.
With a start, the man’s soul returns to the foot of the cross. Looking up, he sees the lance pierce the side of Christ sending blood and water cascading over him.
The healing effect of Christ’s Love closes his lifetime of wounds.
Asking his Savior, “What do you want Lord?”
A long, penetrating silence fills the church. Not a sound can be heard. The still air causes the man’s heart beat to fill his ears once again. Anxiety fades into peace.
A response, “Bear the cross. Bear the cross with hope and joy.”
The aged man with graying hair hears the words of infinite meaning, and bows his head in assurance at the foot of the cross.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
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