Wineskins Archive

February 4, 2014

AfterGlow: A Beautiful Cross (Jul-Aug 1998)

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by Phillip Morrison
July – August, 1998

33Is the cross of Jesus Christ the ugliest or the most beautiful object in all history? The answer depends on one’s perspective. Rough, nail-scarred, blood-stained wood, symbolizing every wrong, every injustice, every indignity one could imagine … how could it be described as anything but ugly? But, on the other hand, because it symbolizes God’s love for his people and represents the ultimate sacrifice freely given … how could it be described as anything but beautiful? People who wear crucifixes don’t seem able to resolve this question. Some wear rough, crude emblems of His suffering while others ear precious-metal, jewel-encrusted symbols of His sacrifice. All things considered, I’ll argue for the beauty of the cross.

On a recent Sunday, just a day after my father had died, I was both grieving for my loss and rejoicing in his victory. When I spoke to a man who still bears the physical and psychological scars of his war injuries and asked him how his week had gone, he told me how sad he was because his dog had died the day before. My first reaction was resentment. My dad and your dog? Come on! Then I realized how truly lonely my friend was, and how surrounded by friends and family I was. Life is beautiful.

Mat Dawson could have retired to a life of ease more than a dozen years ago. At age seventy-eight, he still drives his ’85 Ford Escort, lives in a one-bedroom apartment, and continues to drive a forklift at Ford Motor Company where he has worked for fifty-nine years. He even works overtime to boost his earnings. Why? So he can add to the more than a million dollars he has given to schools and charities since 1994. Not bad for a guy who left school in the seventh grade! Life is beautiful.

Sarah Andrews was just a teenager when she asked her family to support her missionary dreams rather than bankroll a wedding. She took the message of Jesus to Japan, and stayed there through the terrifying years of World War II. Imprisoned and tortured, she shared her daily bowl of rice with fellow-prisoners weaker and sicker than she. “I’ve gone without food,” she said, “but I’ve never been hungry.” Life is beautiful.

Corrie TenBoom and her sister fretted about the fleas which infested their German concentration camp barracks until they learned that the guards in ohter buildings were systematically raping and torturing the women. They learned to regard the fleas as God’s blessing of protection. Life is beautiful.

Abraham and Moses had passed retirement age (at least by twentieth-century standards) when God called them to further service. Despite the hardships and disappointments encountered, they are remembered for their partnership with God. Life is beautiful.

Esther, having become queen, could have forgotten her oppressed people and lived her life of ease, but she had been elevated to a place of honor for a godly purpose, a purpose that had to be fulfilled regardless of personal risk. She was beautiful and so was her life.

A national magazine cover pictured a refugee mother fleeing Kosovo, clutching her suckling baby to her breast. On the mother’s face was written pain, anguish, even terror. But if the blanket were pulled back to reveal the baby’s face, it would show peace, contentment, security, hope. Even in the midst of terror, life is beautiful.

Even when life is not pretty it is beautiful.Wineskins Magazine

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