That was then. Now, there's hardly a branch of life attached to our poor withering bush. We're not sure what happened to it--possible draught, insects, or when the dead tree was uprooted nearby, it could have possibly uprooted the wisteria as well. Regardless, the once fragrant filled bush is quickly dying and giving up its last breath.
The interesting thing is, when I started trimming the dead branches, I was taken aback by the stark view of the wooden cross underneath all of that once vibrant bush. Years ago, when the wisteria was just a twig of sorts, my husband thought it would be cool to have a cross in the front yard, with the wisteria gently entwined around it. I agreed. Obviously, neither of us knew much about the wisteria bush. A few weeks afterwards, the bush had a sudden growth spurt, and the vine quickly overtook any piece of wood it was draped across. The following spring, it was one huge green mass, accented by bright, fragrant clusters of wisteria blossoms. Simply gorgeous, but the cross was no longer visible. With so much life teeming from the bush, we were okay with that.
Until this morning. I felt sucker punched as I trimmed away the dead branches, revealing the cross that was beneath it. Had I been so enamored with Life, that I had forgotten, or at the very least, taken for granted, the cruelty and torture Jesus paid on my behalf? While we're not to live at the foot of the cross, (Our life is in His resurrection, not in His death) I don't want to become unaffected by His sacrifice. Being reminded of the pain He went through--the physical pain, the emotional dissonance of His disciples, the rejection from His earthly family, He did it all for me. Knowing what a lousy person I was to be, He loved me anyway. I think my favorite prayer in the Bible can be found in John 17:
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.Here, we have Him praying for Himself. He knows He's fixing to make a way for people to have Eternal Life. Let's continue on:
6 “I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
He's praying for His disciples. The very guys that were soon going to run away, deny they knew Him, and yet, knowing all of this, He loves and prays for them anyway. How wonderful that must have been, afterwards, when the disciples realized that everything He prophesied about them, would come true. Knowing too, that in spite of those not-so-favorable prophesies, He STILL loves them! What humility that would have invoked from them! But we're not done yet. He goes on yet to pray for a THIRD group of people--US!!
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
How humbled I am, remembering that I, too, was included in His prayer. Yes, I'm afraid I had been so busy enjoying life--well, not really. Here of late, I've been complaining about life. Nobody's perfect but me, nobody does anything but me, if you want anything done, you'll have to do it yourself. Anybody out there know what I'm talking about? Yeah. Figured you did. Not really putting us in a good light, is it? Still, in spite of all that, Jesus still loves us. Jesus still died for us. Jesus was still resurrected 3 days later. That same Power that raised Jesus to Life, wants to raise us to Life, as well.
What about it? Have you become blase' to the cross? Again, while we don't LIVE at the foot of the cross, but rather at the RESURRECTION, let us not take for granted the payment Christ made for us. Apparently, His love for us told Him we were worth it.