I must apologize to all my readers for the chirping crickets that have occupied Zion’s Mountain for over a week now. With Primary elections heating up here in Michigan, political Journalism has torn me away from my true love; the goodness of God, and the many wonders of his Word. The world of politics is a nightmarish place to hang around, and is becoming more and more hostile to those who are trying to shine the light of Jesus into a dark world. The unfortunate fact, however, is this; as a writer and a journalist, I have had more hits on each individual political article, than on all of my Zion’s Mountain writings combined. After conducting interviews, doing my research, cutting through all the lies, writing my article, and dealing with the opposition; I felt tired and dirty, disappointed by the loftiest of human ambitions. I couldn’t wait to run back to God like Elijah, and hide under the shelter of the Most High….I needed a vacation.
We packed some clothes and headed toward Petoskey, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Those who have been to the shores of the Great Lakes will already understand the feeling. There is something about the breeze that blows from a freshwater ocean that heals, cleanses, and decompresses.
THE CROSS IN THE WOODS
In the tiny town of Indian River, fifteen miles outside of Petoskey, stands the world’s largest Crucifix, a Catholic shrine known as The Cross In The Woods. Vacationers, boaters, and snowmobilers race by every day, never giving a thought to the 55 foot high reminder of the sacrifice made on their behalf.
I have some issues with the Catholic Church, the sort of theological differences that have put Catholics at odds with Protestant and Jewish believers for centuries; but I have known some amazingly Spirit filled Catholic brothers and sisters, and I don’t let theological differences get in the way of a chance to worship. I take the chance to worship every year when I visit this Catholic shrine, please don’t tell my Rabbi. (Kidding, he wouldn’t really mind)
As I stand on the paved path leading to the Cross, I see the rows of seating, the altar at the base of the hill, and the Cross itself towering above the surrounding landscape of pine forest. Suspended from the Cross is a 33 foot bronze Corpus, an image of the slain Jesus. I consider the Passover lamb, slain for the sins of man. If at any time man could have lived righteously, without sin, blood would not have been needed for atonement; but we were fallen and broken, so he was broken for us……….But that’s not the end of the story.
I walk down the paved path to the base of the hill, then around the hill to the back side of the Crucifix. This is where I stand to say my prayer at the foot of the Cross….the empty side of the Cross.
“Thank you, Adonai, for sending your Son to be the ultimate sacrifice for my sin. Thank you for the blood that cleanses me from all unrighteousness. Thank you that the cross is now empty. Death has been overcome. Because he is risen and alive, the first fruits of the resurrection, so we will be resurrected also.”
——And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. -1 Corinthians 15:17-19
On my way out, I find a 6 foot sculpture of the resurrected Jesus, where I stop to reflect on the fact that my Savior lives. Many of the faithful have laid down their lives in Kiddush Hashem, but only Jesus of Nazareth rose to, once and for all, defeat death and the grave. Suddenly, in my mind, this 6 foot statue becomes the tallest part of the entire shrine. The grief and guilt I feel over my sin, that required his death; is replaced by joy in his triumphal resurrection. There is now no condemnation. I am awed, and so thankful for the grace and mercy that flows from the empty side of that cross.