Gaze upon the Cross

GazenowordsEver gone star gazing?  I mean not just stepping out into the night and casually noticing the stars, but really intentionally star gazing.  There is something extraordinary about the stars that turns our gaze up.

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to spend some time living on a sheep farm on the coast of New Zealand.  During the day, we spent our time on shepherding excursions, but at night, when the sun went down and the stars came out…and so did we!   Led by a professional New Zealand star gazer, we were taken to the pinnacle of a cliff on the coast and what a magnificent display of God’s creation we saw!  Against the dark of night, millions, if not billions of stars were visible to the eye as our gaze was fixed up.

Our guide pointed to the sky, naming constellations and connecting their stars with a very high powered laser pen.  I watched, amazed, as I considered the stars.  Each constellation seemed bigger, or clearer than the next as he drew across the sky in front of us.  When he came to the final constellation to our right, our guide set his laser on a set of very bright stars.  He said, ‘Do you see these five stars that are shining the brightest?’  It was not difficult to see these stars.  He used his laser pen to connect the dots…to connect the stars…into a very familiar, powerful picture.  One by one, these stars created a cross shining brightly in the dark New Zealand sky.  And then he went on….

‘This constellation is called the Southern Cross.  It is the brightest of all the constellations in the southern hemisphere and it shines year round.  While other constellations seem to fade or appear more distant depending on the rotation of the earth, the Southern Cross is always visible. It never goes away’.

I was immediately in awe.  A cross in the sky is the brightest constellation and regardless of how our earth rotates, it never goes away.   That right there was enough to leave me in wonder as I gazed up at these stars God had aligned in such a beautiful way!

But there was more.  Our guide went on to say, ‘To the people of the southern hemisphere, the Southern Cross is their compass…

…and as a compass, the Southern Cross has shown many a weary traveler the way home.’

The Southern Cross always points true north.  For those on stormy seas in the dark of night, one look to the Southern Cross would show them the way to the shore.  Gazing on the cross gave travelers direction and when their gaze was fixed on the cross, their compass, they would find their way home.

Pointing TRUE north, the Southern Cross gave travelers direction they could not get anywhere else when out to sea.  The Southern Cross never stopped pointing TRUE north.  When travelers gazed upon the cross in the sky, they knew that the Southern Cross never changed direction.  It was always constant.  When their gaze was fixed on the cross, their compass, they would find TRUE north. 

I was overwhelmed as I listened to our guide and gazed upon the Southern Cross.  The brightest constellation never changes and gives direction, always pointing to what is true.   God put in the sky a picture of the very thing that 2,000 years ago would become our compass, our guide to true north, our constant, our salvation, the cross of Christ.

As we turn our gaze on the cross, our compass, we find our way home.  Many weary travelers have found their salvation, their peace and rest at the foot of the cross.

And as we turn our gaze to the cross, our compass, we find the truth.   The cross always shows us what is true.  Always.  If we keep our eyes on the cross, on that true north, it will always show us which direction is pleasing to God, and which is not.  So we keep our gaze up, focused on the cross.

But what happens when we turn our gaze to something else?

In Joshua 7, we meet a man named Achan.  Achan was in the army of the Lord and had entered the Promised Land.  He had crossed over the Jordan River exactly as God commanded, he had done exactly what God had said.  His gaze was on the compass.   From the Jordan River, the Israelites traveled to Gilgal where the people reaffirmed their covenant with God.  Every man in the camp was to be circumcised that day.  That means that Achan, a soldier in the Lord’s army, submitted to circumcision.   Achan’s gaze was on the compass.   At Jericho, the army was commanded to walk around the city walls in silence for six days, and to shout when commanded on the seventh.  There is no report of a man named Achan talking on the second day, or third day, not one report of one man shouting on his own.  Achan obeyed God’s direction.  Achan had his gaze upon the compass.  He followed the direction the Lord gave and Achan saw the walls fall down.

Before the battle, Achan had his eyes on the compass, but what happened after the victory?

Achan took his gaze off the compass and fixed it on something else.  Joshua 7 tells us that Israel experienced defeat at Ai as a direct result of the disobedience of one man to God’s command regarding the devoted things in Jericho.   Achan was the one.  A man who had experienced great victory was now named the one who caused Israel’s first defeat.  He had taken his eyes off of God’s direction, and saw something else.

“When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”  Joshua 7:21

Achan disobeyed.  He saw.  He coveted.  He took.  He hid.  He took his eyes off of what God said, he took his eyes off the truth, and the progression of sin began.  It all started with his eyes, it all started with a misplaced gaze.  He took his gaze off of God’s compass, God’s direction, and put it on his own and that misplaced gaze led to death.  Achan, his family and all he owned, along with the robe, the silver and the gold, were taken outside the city to the Valley of Achor.  There they were stoned and burned.  Death was the consequence of sin.  Until the one who committed the sin had died, Israel would continue to live in defeat.  Nothing good starts with a misplaced gaze.

The Valley of Achor was known as the Valley of Trouble.  It was there that the one who sinned died in order for the people to live in victory again.  We might think that would be the end to such a story, that a place marked by sin, death and hopelessness would be forgotten, but the story doesn’t stop there.  God had a plan.  In Isaiah 65:10 we find the Valley of Achor mentioned again, but this time it is called a place of rest, and in Hosea 2:15, God says He will take the Valley of Achor, the Valley of Trouble, and He will make it a door of hope.

The place of trouble would become a door of hope.  Many years later, on a hill outside of Jerusalem, a cross was raised to the sky.  On it hung Jesus, the perfect, sinless Son of God.  All of our sin, all of our trouble was placed on Him and He was put to death. We might think that would be the end to such a story, that a place marked with sin, death and hopelessness would be forgotten, but the story doesn’t end there.  God had a plan.  The One Who bore our sin was put to death…so we could live.  With Christ’s death, our sin was forgiven and this place of trouble has become for us a place of rest and a door of hope!  Christ rose from the grave, defeating death and we were provided a way to live in victory again!  The cross, the very thing that led to death, for us has become a door to hope!

So we gaze upon the cross and fix our eyes on the One Who took our trouble on Himself so we could have life, rest and hope.

Many weary travelers in this world have turned their gaze to His cross and found their way home.  Many weary travelers have turned their gaze to His cross and found direction, many have found the Truth.  His cross is our compass.  The cross shows us the way.

Are you in need of a Savior today?  Gaze upon the cross.  Are you in the valley of trouble?  Gaze upon the cross. Are you looking for direction?  Gaze upon the cross.  Have you come through a great victory? Keep your gaze upon the cross!  After the victory it is more important than ever to keep our eyes on Him.

Our amazing God has given us a cross in the heavens to remind us that His cross covered it all.  So keep your eyes up, sisters, gaze upon the cross!   Let’s fix our eyes on Him!

‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…’  Hebrews 12:2

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A Shaken House

Unshakeable:  Not capable of being toppled or swayed, not given to trembling or falling down, not fit for wavering.  Every day I see more and more evidence around me that while this life can shake us up, we can rest unshaken in the arms of Jesus.

One of the women in the Bible that I have studied the least is Rahab, but the more I study her, the more I see a woman just like me, just like us.  I guess I would prefer to be Esther, a princess, or maybe Ruth, a kindhearted woman who gives it all up to help another grieving woman and spends her time gleaning in the fields to meet her kinsman redeemer.  Those stories, even with their hard times, sound like the woman I want to be or become.   Their stories, though tough are ‘prettier’.

But Rahab…we all know her occupation, her past, her story.  Pretty sure I have never said I want to see myself in Rahab, but I was wrong.    Continue reading “A Shaken House”

Kick it Up, Princess!

Psalm 62:6  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Back in the spring, Dan and I joined a gym and we love it!  We are empty nesters now so the gym has been our connect, the place we go together in the afternoon.

While I have worked out for many years now, I have never taken strength training very seriously.  I enjoy cardio but have always stayed away from the weight section of the gym.  Weight are scary for me.  They are just too heavy! But this year, in this new place, I have taken on the weights and I love it!  I wake up in the mornings with good pain in muscles I didn’t know I had in my arms, quads and abs.

The other day we were doing bicep curls at the gym and I was feeling pretty good.  I had been using the same size weights for a while now and I was smiling because, wow, I felt like I was pretty strong!  What used to feel really heavy to me Continue reading “Kick it Up, Princess!”

One More Thing

 

One of the first gifts my husband gave me was a suitcase.  I remember unwrapping it, not knowing what it would be, even though the shape and size should have given it away.  He is a pilot, so I suppose a new suitcase is a gift that a pilot’s-wife-to-be should have expected!

While it really was a nice suitcase, I immediately thought it must be my ‘carry-on bag’.  It must be what I will put a few extra things in while the majority of my luggage is packed in a larger bag, checked to its final destination and traveling in the cargo compartment of the plane.

This bag was nice, brand new shiny wheels, a cool pull up handle…but it was just so small.  The few times I had traveled prior to this, I had always used a bigger suitcase, one that was able to hold whatever I might need.  Continue reading “One More Thing”

Moonbow

500x319xlunarrainbow-2-jpg-pagespeed-ic-imsschwxcbI am laughing as I board a plane today.  When my husband purchases our airline tickets, he always chooses the exact same seats every time we travel, without fail.  I don’t have to look at my ticket when I board a plane or give it to the flight attendant.  I can tell her where my seat is located!  Dan books it the same, every trip, every airline, every time…faithfully!

So, I am currently seated in my ‘assigned seat’.  My seat belt is buckled, my carry-on luggage is stowed, and I am on my way home now from a truly amazing adventure in Africa.   Continue reading “Moonbow”

Put Your Shoes On!

img_3485Busy!  I feel like this past month has been crazy busy which led to a whole lot of hurrying around on my part.  I have hurried from one event to the next, from one store to the next and at home, I have hurried from one chore to the next.   Sometimes hurrying can get us into trouble!  As I hurried to get the dishwasher emptied the other day, mysteriously, one of those bowls that are advertised as ‘unbreakable’ came flying out of my hand and crashed to the floor!  What had been advertised as unbreakable shattered into a thousand pieces.  Of course I didn’t have any SHOES on, Continue reading “Put Your Shoes On!”

One Belt Fits ALL

img_1776Tucked away in the back corner of my closet hides a hangar and hanging from this forgotten hangar there are belts!  There are wide belts and narrow belts, black belts, brown belts and belts that are both black and brown!  There are metallic belts and multi colored belts, stretchy belts and not so stretchy belts.  There are belts that looked good in the 90’s, belts that are in style now, and everything in between!

Each belt was useful at one time.  Through the years, each belt was purchased for and matched a specific outfit.  As time went on and outfits no longer fit or worked, the clothes were given away, but somehow the hidden belts always stayed behind!    Continue reading “One Belt Fits ALL”