In The Name of Love

 Saturday, April 23, 2011

My name isn't important, but you know who I am. I'm the thief that walked the road to Calvary with Jesus. The thief who was condemned to die upon a cross next to the King of Kings. I'd done my fair share of sinning. I'd chosen a life of crime. Do you know how it feels to walk the road of a condemned man--forced to carry his shame and listen to the jury cry for your death. I know all too well, but I accepted the road that I walked.

Three of us walked to our death that day upon dusty roads made of stone---our crosses heavy, a crushing weight that begs for relief. I didn't know at the time, that this day was no ordinary day. There was a man, Jesus, who seemed to be hated and loved for who he was. Not a thief, murderer, or sinner by any means---He was the son of God.

His only crime was claiming that he was such. He'd been known through out the land. Known for calling all sinners to repent for the kingdom of God was at hand, healing the sick, raising the dead, & that seemed to rile the religious order. So much so they brought him before Pilate and demanded his crucifixion.

He was a man scourged, beaten, whipped, spit upon and mocked. As we moved through the crowd those who loved him followed and wept.

Finally arriving at Calvary's Hill they hung us up on our crosses for the world to see--to look upon the condemned. There at the feet of Jesus they divided his garments and cast lots. They sneered, yelling "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."

A sign hung over His head that read THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. But Jesus, prayed for them saying, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Imagine that--He the condemned praying for those who hated and despised Him. I'd never known or seen such a man as this.

I knew that I deserved my punishment, but this man did not--He did no wrong that required such a punishment. I recognized what those who did not or refused to---Jesus was who He claimed to be and He would live and rule in God's Kingdom. Though I died that day I inherited everlasting life. "Lord, I said, "remember me when You come into your kingdom.

Jesus raised His head, looked upon a sinner--a thief--an outcast, and said "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

There on that Hill, He bore the sins of the world----all in the name of love!


Footprints in the Sand

 Thursday, April 21, 2011

I knew something was wrong. Pam abruptly stopped in the middle of performing my regularly scheduled ultrasound and excused herself from the room. "I'll be right back she said, and disappeared through the door. Lying there on the table, gel still warm on my growing belly, I began to pray frantically. My heart beat hard against my chest, anxiety set in and my mind began to race with worry. Richard sat beside me trying to be strong for me, but we both knew something was wrong. There in the dimly lit ultrasound room I waited for what seemed like an eternity, preparing myself for the worst. The door opened, revealing a little light. There was my doctor with a look of sympathy upon his face and we knew then that our baby had died after only 14weeks.

Emptiness, pain, sorrow, darkness, and fear swirled within me raging like a storm set out on a turbulent sea. In the midst I questioned God: Why? Why did this happen? Was there something I did or didn't do? Why had he allowed such an awful thing to happen? And God always answers, even if its not what we want to hear. And God, being who He is, answered me. There in the midst of it all he met me, just He and I--Father to daughter. And it was there that I finally learned what "peace that surpasses all understanding" is. And that even in one of the darkest and bleakest times in my life, He was there---He carried me through--us through. It's knowing that Jesus wept with us and my pain was and is his pain.

There is a purpose for all things. As horrible as it was, God's will and purpose was done. Some may question what in the world good was accomplished through such a tragedy. We'll I'll tell you. No longer do I take my other children for granted. Those little things that used to drive me crazy no longer bother me. Our family is stronger, my marriage is stronger, my relationship with my mother is stronger, and my faith is stronger. No matter what comes my way, I can depend on Jesus. God never left me and He will never forsake me. If not for the love of God and Christ's sacrifice, where would I be.

It's been 2 weeks since we buried our son Ronan Pete Wagner. I'd be lying if I said that it hasn't been hard. I have my moments where I think about him not being able to take his first steps, first day of kindergarten, sibling rivalry, or saying his first words. But I know that he sleeps, and I'll see him again. We grieve, but not as others who grieve, for we know where our hope lies. It is in Christ. I found my way back to Him in it all never really knowing how far I had actually strayed from home until April 8, 2011. It was that day that I bared my soul, laid my head upon upon his lap and told Him just how much I needed Him. He simply replied: "Welcome home Daughter" and placed upon my head a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.