Chad, a dear friend and spiritual son, texted me some photos the other day. One prompted a mixed-emotion smile. When the second photo came through, I immediately began to cry. The imagery too confronting, too powerful, and too tender.
He had been asked to make a cross for the Resurrection Sunday Celebration at New Wine Church. Chad explained how he had looked at his lumber options. He considered a beautiful piece of seasoned oak or a lovely piece of planed cedar. But the Lord directed him to a more humble offering. Here is the first photo:
This plank of wood is from my parent’s house and my childhood home. It was a shelf in my mother’s pantry that held all manner of kitchen goods. Mom was ever cooking wonderful meals for her family. And, like every good Depression-surviving woman, she had to have ample supplies in her pantry. “Just in case,” she would say.
Chad remarked about the shelf, “Under all the multiple layers of paint, dust, grease, and preservatives there was this beautiful slab of wood. It just took a little work to get there.” Selah.
This is sweet. Special, even. A symbol of my mother’s hard work and wisdom. However. Before it was a pantry, this small space was my bedroom. And before that, this small space housed both of my brothers in a narrow bunk.
In one moment, all kinds of memories blitzed my heart and head. Wonderful meals, cramped spaces, poverty as a child.
For reference, this is the room once the shelves were removed and the house was “all dolled up” to put on the market.
My heart was in a blender already when Chad’s second photo came through.
I still can’t look at this picture without choking up. (Thanks, Chad.) The transformation is stunning. The metaphor is wrenching. It was the Cross that redeemed all that poverty, brokenness, and lack. God took my parent’s best efforts and worst frailties and shaped their offering into something beyond their wildest dreams.
It’s a prayer every parent can relate to. I can relate to. Oh God, make us aware of our inheritance to our children, good or bad, and may the Cross transform it all.
God breaks very real generational curses, redeems relationships, and restores fortunes lost or squandered. But wait there is so very much more.
Look at where Chad placed the cross. All greater things are grown out of the cross.
Greater Things is literally grown out of God’s relentless love as well as the love of those who have raised us in the faith. It’s our joy and honor now to continue to multiply all that we have been given.
Don’t miss this.
All of us, and I mean ALL of us, are ALWAYS climbing on the root system of someone before us. Someone else sacrificed and persevered and believed to the point of tears. Jesus himself believed to the point of blood.
The belief that God will bring beauty from our ashes, joy from our mourning, a double portion for our shame, and freedom from captivity is our unending anthem. In a word, transformation.
One final kiss. On Resurrection Sunday, the families each brought a flower and adorned the cross. Not that we could ever add to God’s glory — but we celebrate the power and beauty of our Life-giving, Chain-breaking, Death-defying King Jesus.