Cross Roads

Any opportunity to travel by country roads, instead of interstates, is a rare treat. What little regional culture remains in this country, isn’t seen by taking the Most Direct and Fastest Route. Winding from clothes line to cows, expansive fields bursting with Guess That Crop, to delicately nurtured gardens, Blue Line Voyeurism offers simple pleasures. It fuels the family game of What Would It Be Like To Live Here, as we consider life, and all its possibilities.

During a recent trip, we wound our way through rural parts of northern Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. From geese bursting out of a sunrise mist rising off a lake, to late-afternoon sun dancing off color-drenched fall leaves, we rejoiced in His creation.

A few hundred miles later, unease seemed to settle in like an unwanted afternoon fog. Small wooden crosses, erected in ditches or nailed to trees, demanded attention, drawing my eyes away from glorious landscapes. I found myself quickly praying for the grieving family and friends who lost loved ones in steel-twisted wrecks.

Nine-hundred hundred miles and a few hundred crosses later, my thoughts shifted from “what would it be like to live here”, to the macabre, “what would it be like to grieve there”.

“So, quite a few crosses, eh?”, I asked my husband, his eyes glued to his laptop screen.
“Yep”, he muttered.
“So, is it starting to get to you like it’s getting to me?”, I asked.
“Yep. The GPS says you’re five miles under the speed limit”.
“Yep”, I said.

Our views differed as to the intended meaning of the crosses. His view is simple, straight-forward: death and danger – the family wanted to warn others. Mine is more complex, dismissing altruistic, noble-minded motives for those more in keeping with human suffering and grieving.

Just around the next corner, three crosses, two baby pink, one baby blue, snuggled together. Groans escaped our lips. Several minutes later, an intersection displayed three more crosses adorned with wreaths, balloons and cherubs, taking on the appearance of a shrine, a destination for mourning friends and family.

I pulled over. Sticky-backed letters, typically used on mailboxes identifying the owner’s name and address, lined the crosses proferring names and dates – twin brothers, fourteen years of age, and their thirty-eight year-old father.

My mind flashed back to a stroll I’d taken through a Roman Catholic cemetery in Ireland. The engraved-cross headstones beseeched, “Pray For Me”. The same sorrow I felt then, stirred my soul.

The wisdom of the world has misappropriated the message of the cross, turning it into a public display of personal pain, suffering and loss. The cross becomes void of its power if the message conveyed is anything other than preaching Christ crucified. To usurp its message, as having a meaning of personal sorrow and loss, is to water it down so completely that all true meaning is lost.

1Corinthians 18: For to those who are perishing, the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power.

The “sum and substance of the gospel”, in Matthew Henry’s words, are that “Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death, we live.” THAT is the message of the cross. Not one of grieving and sorrow, but one of Victory and Rejoicing in the power of God.

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