Monday, October 3, 2011

A Cross Story

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This story is the result of a request by a young Christian lady, Nicole Diduch, from Whitney, Texas. I served with her, and others, during the summer of 2011 on a Joplin, MO, tornado recovery effort. She wanted to know the story of how I began making little wooden crosses.

When I first started making little wooden crosses, I made them for Walk to Emmaus Weekends. I made them to be used as "pillow agape" for the participants of the 72-hour spiritual weekend. For men, the cross was given as a "pocket cross", for a guy to simply put/carry in his pocket. For women, the cross had a magnetic strip on the back in order to make it a refrigerator magnet. I had been making these for several years and had probably given away a couple thousand in this way.

Then in about 1995, two of our daughters, who were going to college, at the time, went on a College Chrysalis in Dumas, TX at New Beginnings, out in the country. It was timing issue to get them from college and back during this weekend. One of the daughters went to school in Canyon at WTAMU; it was not problem for her. But the other daughter went to school at UNM, in Albuquerque, NM, and had to fly back from the Amarillo airport. But, no problem there, either, as God did provide.

It was just before this walk that I was in my shop at Sundown ISD, in Sundown, Texas. I was making a bunch of these crosses for their weekend. My wife came in while I was in the process of finishing about 2-3000 crosses. I was taking each one as I finished cutting it, kissing it, and saying a prayer, “God bless the person that gets this cross.” It was a very simple gesture, and I was moving right along. I had done about 3-400 when she said, “Well, silly, you could get through a lot faster if you would just put them in the bucket and just pray over the entire lot.” I agreed with her and poured all the crosses into the one bucket. In the process, I said, “Well, I just wanted to make sure that the crosses that went to our daughters had been prayed over.” You would have thought that I had slapped her with a wet towel! She said, “Pour them out and let’s pray over each one like you were doing in the beginning”! So that is "the rest of the story."

Now, this part of the story that Nicole has not heard.

At the end of the Chrysalis weekend, we were waiting for the ending program. There was a long wait in the sanctuary of that facility. We sang a lot of songs, and heard some folks give various presentations. During a pause in the waiting time, I saw a cross, a much bigger wooden cross, 12-15” tall, that was used as the team cross for the weekend. It was on the altar, so I sauntered up to the altar to check it out. I had made several of these crosses over the years, as well, and wanted to see how my crosses measured up to this one. I could tell very quickly that my crosses looked a lot better than this one. It was chattered and did not have a very clean, polished surface. It looked rather crude, I thought to myself. I was feeling really proud of myself and the crosses that I had been making.

Then, the closing ceremony started, and the participants began to file in. In the process of the closing, the lay leader went over to the cross and picked it up. He told the story of how he had labored for quite a long time to get the cross to look more finished, more polished. It seemed that the longer he worked on it, the worse it looked. Finally, he gave up, and threw it in the trash can. As it hit the bottom of the trash can, he heard a voice, God told him, ”You were junk, and I did not throw you away!”

Wow, guess how that made me feel?

I was so ashamed of how I had criticized his cross.

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