Near the Cross

May 24, 2024
4 min read
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I love how lyrics bubble up in our minds, like small flowers upended from the seafloor during the ebb and flow of life. On a quiet drive, a long walk, or when I’m cleaning my house, my ears are wide open to God’s voice. When a precious phrase or refrain springs up from the depths, I recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. It grabs my attention. It leaves a mark.

Lately, the song that keeps floating into my consciousness is the refrain from Fanny Crosby’s “I am Thine, O Lord,” published in 1875. These powerful words refer to where my life is positioned;

“Draw me nearer, nearer precious Lord
To the Cross where Thou hast died,
Draw me nearer, nearer, precious Lord,
To Thy precious bleeding side.”

Last winter, I read Fanny’s fascinating story, An Autobiography of Fanny J. Crosby. Fanny became blind when she was six weeks old due to a physician’s error, and heard God’s calling to write when she was in school. Through much toil and effort, she honed her craft. In Fanny’s day and age, her work made her a celebrity, and she was recognized as a “poetess” of the first order. She was wildly productive, which she attributed to prayer. While teaching at the New York Institute for the Blind, she wrote almost 9,000 hymns, as well as volumes of poems and cantatas. Her skills opened doors and launched friendships with presidents, politicians, and business leaders. But the occupation closest to her heart, until her death at age 94, was helping in rescue missions and serving the poor. Fanny knew how to stay near the Cross.

How do we stay near the Cross? How can Christ’s “precious bleeding side” impact the way we react to the world around us? The beauty of the Cross means nothing to this world but everything to those of us who have been transformed by it. The Apostle Paul explains this dichotomy in 1 Corinthians 1:18; “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the very power of God.” 

We have to ponder that power daily, because our flesh quickly forgets Jesus’ sacrifice. Intentionality helps us process life near the Cross. Is the Cross front and center in your mind? Ask yourself some questions to map where the Cross stands in your heart.

Does the depth of your sin and the magnitude of Christ’s suffering stir your emotions? Do you wonder, and ask yourself, what difference the Cross makes in all kinds of situations? While we were yet sinners, without hope, Christ died for us. Each time we consider the price he paid, and the gravity of what that payment means in terms of peace, joy, hope, and heaven, our heart should tremble.

Does the gospel frame your days? Does Christ’s death and resurrection vividly color who you are, in every context? We live in a broken world, so in order to remember, we must speak truth to ourselves each day about who God is, what he's done, and what he’s called us to. Affirmations of faith shape our perspective. A powerful one about Christ’s death and resurrection to continually contemplate is, “Because of the Cross, there is grace and hope for everything I go through today.” 

Do you have a healthy theology of suffering? Do you know how to apply it in struggles of all sizes? God’s Word undeniably teaches that suffering is not punitive. It is often prescriptive. Jesus told his disciples suffering would mark them as his own in Matthew 16:24; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” 

In all kinds of relationships, situational dynamics, and horizontal struggles, there are crosses to carry. If we follow Jesus, we carry them with perseverance, with humility, and without complaint. We carry them for a greater purpose than the one at hand. We carry them knowing our actions have far-reaching implications. Most importantly, we carry them through Christ’s strength and not our own. Those crosses push us to depend on him.

Is the Cross close to you?  Drawing near the Cross teaches us to celebrate its impact daily. The counterintuitive message of the Cross bears repeating over and over; weakness surrendered to Christ becomes strength. Grace, hope, and power flow into our lives as we draw near the Cross. When we draw near we remember that the Cross is not an end, but a glorious beginning.

Fieldstone Counseling is a ministry dedicated to sharing lasting hope for life’s hardships through biblically-based, Christ-centered, clinically informed caregiving. This hope is available to all who seek it, regardless of their financial circumstances, through Fieldstone’s generous donors.  Would you consider supporting this work today? For more information about giving, please visit Thank you!

Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.

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