Turn and Return
My first meeting with a doctor was at my birth. We did not have a formal introduction and our encounter was brief. None the less - it was a life giving experience. Throughout my decades, I have returned to various doctors more than once. My repeated returns are not a reflection of poor doctoring, but an indication of my sickness and infirmity. I go back to doctors not because they failed to do their job, but because their job is unfailing. It is the same for the cross.
The cross of Jesus Christ is a place of returning. My first encounter with the cross of Jesus was life giving. By faith in His finished work, I received the full blessedness of grace. But then, there are repeated returns to Calvary throughout my spiritual experience. My returns to the cross do not suggest that the cross is weak, ineffective or incomplete. I return because my soul is frail and broken. I return out of my need. I return out of my longing. I return because it is the intersection God’s mercy and my sinful ways. My theology tells me that the work of the cross is finished. My experience tells me that this finished work is applied repeatedly to my need. Because of the cross, I can come boldly and repeatedly before God to find grace to help in my time of need.
The path of returning to the cross has a name. It is called repentance. When I repent, I not only turn from the sin which plagues me - but I turn to a place I have come before. I return to the atoning work of Jesus. I return to the only place that can grant me the confidence of forgiveness. Repentance is more than a regret. It has to go beyond good intentions. It is not clothed with false promises. Repentance is an offering of heart. I bring to God what has been wounded and scarred by my own actions. I offer again at the foot of Calvary what has been stained. Repentance recognizes that my heart is not all that it should be. But it is all that I can bring. What grace! What an exchange! To offer God that which is not as it should be and receive mercy, which is all I could ever want. And since my failures are repeated and the cross is sufficient - this pattern of turning and returning happens again and again.
We are to return to cross throughout our pilgrimage. The path we walk is repentance. The grace we find is forgiveness and transformation. But let me offer a fine tuning to my words. When I return - it is not to place. Not a hill in Jerusalem. Not a symbol on steeples or at the end of a necklace. I return to a Person - Jesus who died and is alive. Jesus who knows I am dust. Jesus, who can breathe life into dust.