“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Once a year, I go on a silent retreat weekend with a group of Jesuits. I see it as an uninterrupted, intimate time with Jesus, and just like being on a long road trip, we can get into the kind of conversations that take five hours to finish. I look at it as a time to take stock of where I am with God and where He wants me to be, to grapple with the truths I’m learning and the issues I’m facing.
Once, during a long walk on the grounds of the monastery, I was pouring my heart out about a painful betrayal I thought I would never recover from, reflecting on Scripture and asking Christ to guide me. As He reminded me that He had taken care of every situation at the cross, I came face to face with it, literally—a bronze Jesus nailed to a cross right there in the woods. I hadn’t been aware of its existence, so its impact on me was incredible. To see Him nailed there, life-sized, to be able to touch Him and see the anguish on His face overwhelmed me. I fell to my knees. As I knelt there in the snow, I knew that there could be no resolution to my problem without the cross, that forgiveness and healing and hope could only be found there in the finished work of Christ.
I think sometimes the cross is such an abstract thing for us that we never get the impact of what transpired and the power it gives us for our day-to-day lives. Think of what Christ did on the cross when He took upon Himself every sin we’ve committed and every sin committed against us. He bore the anguish of being separated from His Father because of those sins, and after battling with the enemy, He rose victoriously so that we could do the same in our own battles, making a way for reconciliation with God and for the redemption of every aspect of our lives.
That encounter in the woods, where the cross became so real and powerful to me, changed both my heart and my situation. Though I had striven to do so, I hadn’t found within myself the forgiveness I needed to extend. But Christ provided it for me. Kneeling there, I was far too aware of the forgiveness I had been shown to withhold it from someone else. I needed hope that I would survive the situation, hope that had until then been out of my reach. But it began to trickle into my heart. The cross is truly powerful—and everything it embodies is ours for the taking.
Dear Jesus, thank you for what You did on the Cross. Because of your sacrifice, I can live and walk in freedom. Teach me to lay down my burdens and pick up your yoke daily.