March 30 – Good Friday

“Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Isaiah 50:11

What a solemn warning to those who walk in darkness and yet who try to help themselves out into the light. They are represented as kindling a fire, and compassing themselves with sparks. What does this mean?

Why, it means that when we are in darkness the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying upon Him. Instead of letting Him help us out, we try to help ourselves out. We seek the light of nature, and get the advice of our friends. We try the conclusions of our reason, and might almost be tempted to accept a way of deliverance which would not be of God at all. . . .

Cease meddling with God’s plans and will. You touch anything of His, and you mar the work. You may move the hands of a clock to suit you, but you do not change the time; so you may hurry the unfolding of God’s will, but you harm and do not help the work. You can open a rosebud but you spoil the flower. Leave all to Him. Hands down. Thy will, not mine. . . .

Remember that it is better to walk in the dark with God than to walk alone in the light. (Streams in the Desert)

Worship happens when I least expect it. I exited DFW Airport for the hour and forty five minute drive home enduring traffic slowdowns among other frustrations of urban gridlock, and breathed easier once I left the concrete jungle behind. It’s impossible these days to avoid road construction with its narrowing lines and reduced speed limits, but I navigated all of them while retaining focus on returning home. South of the -Y- where I-35 east and I-35 west merge to become simply Interstate 35 south, I glanced across and out the passenger side window and smiled at an almost indescribable array of central Texas wildflowers. It looked as if someone emptied a paint bucket gradually alongside the highway. I hastily identified bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, pink evening primroses, and a few winecups thrown in for good measure. Blue and orange ribbons streamed as far as the horizon, dipping over and beyond. I looked as closely as one is permitted when traveling seventy five miles an hour, and the whole display was so dazzling that, on the spur of the moment, I pulled to the shoulder for a closer look. I lowered the passenger side window, tilted my head for a better view, and was surprised to spot a small white cross engulfed by the ocean of wildflowers. The cross stood a foot or so above the floral carpet.

I waited for a break in a traffic, quickly exited my Jeep, and walked directly toward the cross. Although I cannot fully explain my actions or emotions, it felt oddly calming to approach the cross jabbed into a sea of blue and orange while cars and eighteen wheelers sped by in another world. I stepped carefully through the flowers, not so much to prevent harming them as to keep from hurting myself, alert for any snakes that may have chosen to picnic among the bluebonnets. My wife and I comment on that danger every time we see adults positioning a child for a photograph against a floral palette—beware of snakes. A moment later, I reached the cross situated some twenty-five feet from the shoulder of the road, and looked down at the crude sculpture fashioned out of what looked like narrow intersecting boards from a weathered white picket fence. The roughly fashioned cross was evidently positioned there to mark a highway fatality. Someone lost a loved one along Interstate 35 and wanted to remember or perhaps establish a primitive warning to future travelers that danger once lurked there, taking the life of someone they cared deeply about. I had no way of knowing how long it had been there; what I did clearly observe were brilliant bluebonnets and vivid Indian paintbrushes crowded in around the cross, creating a floral frame for distant tragedy.

What happened next defies reason. The juxtaposition of cross and flowers washed over me like a wave that would not be prevented from the shore. There was so much more there than a cross and wildflowers; tragedy transformed into glory, mourning transitioned to joy. A memorial had become a sanctuary. Without thinking, as best I can tell, I raised my arms and lifted eyes heavenward and prayed out loud. It isn’t like me to be so obvious. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I don’t do that sort of thing; conservative is a label that fits more than my political posture. To be completely honest, I am characteristically rather dull, but although likely regarded as a lunatic by passersby, I was undeterred in my praise of our Creator who takes the worst life throws at us and fashions it into building blocks for eternal glory. Worship is unaware of anything but its object of adoration. Much that passes for worship these days may be better termed something else, something less. Rarely are we captivated by heaven, oblivious or at least unconcerned about what we’ll eat next, what others are wearing, the pain in our sciatica, the score from last night’s game, or the items we need to add to the calendar on our iPhone. Thank God there are unplanned moments when I remember that God is enough, that he is, in fact, everything. Worship is nothing more and nothing less than losing sight of all else save God, and enjoying him in the process. The Westminster shorter catechism begins by stating, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Ordinarily I grasp and respond to only as much of God as I need at the moment, making worship extremely selfish, but standing like a scarecrow in a field of wildflowers, my heart responded to what my mind still cannot fully fathom. Worship comes from a heart overfilled with the glory of God.

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