This Easter made me think of a writing I did fourteen years ago about the old rugged cross verses our broken half-mended fences referred to as "our lives.". Here is that writing, along with a picture of an old gate my dad tried to mend the best he could using whatever he could find to do it. Our lives are represented by that old broken fence in need of repair, Christ is the carpenter sent not only to repair it but make it new.
The Broken Fence
It's funny how old things can take on new meanings at any given time. Like the time I was asked to make the props for our annual Easter play at the church. What an honor it was to be asked, as genuine excitement flooded over me at the chance to once more serve my Lord. My assignment was the Garden of Gethsemane on one half of the stage and an alley on the other. The director wanted a rock for Jesus and a garbage can for the bum in the play but my imagination was unable to stop there.
Picket fences made out of old weather beaten wood would look nice but what more could I add to them I pondered. Talking to my sister and mother they came up with the excellent idea that sent my inventiveness into full sing. They told me some grape vines and bunches of grapes to decorate the fences would be very symbolic and I agreed. The plan was to build 3to 4 small fences about 30 inches wide. Two of the fences had been built before the first play rehearsal. At the rehearsal as I watched the bum in the play act out his part I had an idea of making the picket fence on his side of the stage a broken down looking one.
Going home that evening I began working on the broken fence. The more I labored the more real it became to me, for that broken fence not only represented the bum in the Easter play but it illustrated me as well. Just about finished with the fence I took notice of the song that was playing on the CD player I had going. It was Carman singing "The Old Rugged Cross." What a well loved song through many a generations since 1913, one that symbolizes so well Jesus and what He did for us.
It was at that moment that the Lord caught my attention as He spoke to me through the familiar words. I felt exhilarated as I saw that song symbolizing something else. A vision formed in my mind of how God looks at our old rugged fences as we look to the old rugged cross. As the song played through my imagination translated these well-known words into words Jesus spoke in His heart to me that first Easter when He died on the cross for my sins and for the sins of all others…
"On a hill not that far away I see an old rugged fence,
The emblem of suff'ring and pain;
Oh how I love that old fence, to Me it's the dearest and best
For it was for a world of lost sinners I was slain.
O that old rugged fence, may be despised by the world,
But it has a wondrous attraction to me;
After all, as the dear Lamb of God
I left my glory above to bear it on dark Calvary.
In that old rugged fence, so stained by the world,
Is a wondrous beauty to Me;
For 'twas because of that old fence that I suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify it.
CHORUS: So I'll cherish that old rugged fence,
Till it's trophies at last it will lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged fence,
As I'm waiting to exchange it some day for a crown."
Wow, that last line really did it as I thought about Christ waiting in Heaven for me to exchange my old rugged fence, "my life" for a crown made just for me. It doesn't matter how rugged the fence, how many the flaws, how nice the paint job, how weather beaten by the world. Christ sees past our fences into our hearts where His cross should be firmly planted. Realizing that my fence in life could never compare to the "Old Rugged Cross" I began to ponder what it represented. Truly it illustrated Christ's love for us that He came here to die for sinner's like me. The suffering that Christ went through for me could never be compared either to the minor flaws in my "fence" that I might come across.
Memories of the times Jesus has come along to help me repair my fence came to mind. The nails I was trying to use just wouldn't hold, for Him it only took 4, one in each hand and foot. Quietly as I thought about those times I began to pray….
"Dear Heavenly Father thank you so much for being there to help me with my old broken fence. Through out my life You have sent many people down my road that have been willing to stop and help put up a board or two that may have fallen. It's a comfort to know that no matter how rugged it looks, how many boards are missing, how poor the repairs, how bad the paint job, you will see it as a wondrous attraction with beauty. Forgive me Father for the times in my life that I have tried to fix my own fence with nails that just wouldn't hold. May I adjust my focus not to the broken fence but the place you are preparing for me. A place of beauty that none can compare. I love you Father God, I'm forever grateful Lord that You allowed me to come to You just as I was. I didn't need to stop and repair my fence, if I had I'd probably still be trying to fix it. I never would have been able to get ready on my own. Thank you for loving me so much that I didn't need a perfect fence for You to come into the yard of my life, all I needed was Your cross. You're the greatest Father God, I love you!!"
"Do not let our hearts be troubled, Trust in God, trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3 (NIV)
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