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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: Flowers of the Cross
By Alicia Renkema


The memory of the scent of lilacs in my grandparent's backyard, a rose garden brimming with its enchanting perfume, tulips in their merriment, makes me feel blessed. This stands in sharp contrast to this story.

God's magnificence amazes me. Yet one Arizona evening, there was an array of flowers in all their adornment, that stood out more than any other.

During the Lenten Season of 2004, I went to a movie premiere with a close friend and my son. For two whole months, I had listened to detailed interviews and promotions in anticipation of seeing this movie.

The movie was "The Passion of the Christ," and it would forever change how I viewed the pain that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, went through for me.

It wasn't so much the scenes picturing our Lord's betrayal, the intense scenes filled with the pent-up-emotions of Mary's weeping; the mocking, or the beatings He endured. Those were horrifying enough, but the scene in "The Passion of the Christ" that I was not prepared for was the long, long, road to Golgotha, mentioned in John 19:17, NKJV. As the sharp splinters from the wood bore into His emaciated skin, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shouldered that heavy cross for us all.

Whenever I would think about the incomprehensible torture at Calvary and the events that led to it, I would think about the sharp and excruciating pain as the nails were being driven into His wrists and feet for us. I would also think about Judas's infamous betrayal, Peter's forlorn denial, along with the disciples apathy. I would even meditate on the fearful heart that scripture says Jesus had at Gethsemane while pleading with His Father for another way for mankind to be delivered. Yet, never once in all my growing-up-years had I really thought about Golgotha.

That night in the movie theater as I watched His wearied, bloodied and severely weakened body as it dropped under the weight of cross, I had a fresh understanding of the price Jesus paid for us...

My heart felt like it had skipped several beats, I could hardly wait to get out of the movie theater and yet I knew I needed to appreciate what He had done for me in a deeper way than ever before. I believed that God was calling me to hurt with the sharpness of His pain. Not that I could carry it, He did that. But He calls us to suffer with Him. Romans 8:16-17 speaks of this when it says,"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs----heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." -- NKJV.

Eventually as the credits began to roll, the house lights came up, it was almost a sense of relief that the movie was over. But at the same time, we felt a need to sit there and absorb all we had just seen. Our friend, Jan, decided she would go home and collapse as the movie had emotionally drained her. She had had her face in her hands the whole time, occasionally peering at the screen with one eye. My son and I were going to go home to enjoy the privilege of sharing communion, an extra special blessing that night. But first, the Lord had something important that He wanted to share with me.

As we left the theater and went out into the night air, I turned my head and beheld the most amazing array of flowers! I can't even remember what kind they were, but as I stood there, I saw their color was so intense and sharp; more vivid than any beauty I had ever seen before.

God filled me with His joy that night and spoke to my sad heart. He tenderly said,"I am alive, look at these brilliant colors. I have arisen, I want you to rise also, in your heart.  John 16:33, Jesus spoke these comforting words to His disciples the same week that He was crucified, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."--- NKJV

Author's note: This is a true story in the life of the author.

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This article has been read 453 times
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/14/13
Although I have never seen that movie, I could feel the emotions that it stirred up in you. I love how God sends us little reassurances of his love when we need them most. I'm also delighted that you are writing them down, for not only do they inspire the reader,they are a constant reminder that God does loves us dearly. We need those memories on bad days, and your story will remind me of God's love every time my breath is taken away by a beautiful flower.
C D Swanson 03/14/13
I never watched this film, but have heard many different people speak about it. You did a good job with writing about it from your perspective, and bringing it home to those who didn't view it.

Nicely written.

God bless~
C D Swanson 03/14/13
Sorry...this went before I wanted it to. I wanted to add, "I loved your true account of what you experienced" with seeing the flowers and feeling a sense of peace and joy knowing He is risen. Amen and Amen.

Thank you. God bless~
Danielle King 03/18/13
I know this is written straight from the heart. I felt every emotion that you shared with us. I love the way you opened and closed the piece with your vivid memories of the flowers. You've presented the message of the cross throughout, in a direct and also a personal way, which will touch many hearts. Great writing!
Ellen Carr 03/18/13
You've written a very personal account of the way this movie affected you. I have seen the movie too and it was very confronting and moving. You've done a great job in describing it and the impact of the flowers you saw. Well done! The only words I would suggest you could change are these: 'His emaciated skin', because I don't think the Lord was emaciated (that would mean he had severely lacked nourishment) - just my opinion.But overall a great piece of writing.
Cheryl Harrison03/18/13
I love your title. Thank you for sharing this tender testimony. Good job!
Vince Martella03/18/13
Very moving, emotion-laden piece. I have seen the movie, and I think I can agree that it was life changing for me as well. Your descriptions are vivid and your message is right on. I love it when the Lord confirms His Word with signs: those flowers were a "rhema" word for you. Great piece of writing. Thanks for sharing it.
lynn gipson 03/18/13
The way you describe the scents of the flowers and the emotion of the painful yet beautiful movie is almost like moving an artist's brush for me to see the painting. Very moving, poignant, telling of your experience. I didn't see the movie either, but I'm sure it was life changing.

God Bless, Lynn
Christina Banks 03/18/13
I love how you marked the contrast between the blooms and the images that you encountered in the movie. Tears come to my eyes every time I think about what our Savior did on the cross for us. The beauty of the flowers is a good contrast to that, just like the resurrection of Christ stands in contrast to the suffering. He is Risen.
Lillian Rhoades 03/18/13
What a marvelous comparison -the beauty of flowers and the beautiful reality of a risen Lord.

I love the thought from your title that the Cross not only represents pain, but from that pain new birth blossoms like flowers.

Wonderful, insightful!
Virgil Youngblood 03/18/13
The flow of this story is outstanding and compels the reader forward. The first sentence is the only one that gave me a stumble. You awakened my senses with a "rose garden" and then put "tulips" in it. Perhaps, roses and tulips would work better. The title invites readership. Well done.
Judith Gayle Smith03/18/13
"The Passion of The Christ" was such a powerful intense tribute to Jesus - heartbreakingly memorable. I remember reading Mel Gibson had his own hand holding the nail that pierced Jim Cavaziels hand. It made me think that Mel Gibson had truly given himself to our Lord, feeling himself to be the sinner keeping Jesus on the cross. Thank you for bringing this anew to my attention. I will continue praying for him.

I love how you sandwiched your story between the bouquets - it adds poignancy and loveliness to a beautiful written piece.
Richard Hicks03/19/13
What a very timely story, and a beautiful piece. Perfect for Easter, and reminder what our wonderful Savior went through at the Cross. Thanks for sharing your talent with us and I know your writing touches the heart of God.
Margaret Kearley 03/20/13
It was wonderful to read again this wonderful testimony and share in the way God touched your own heart so deeply on this occasion. It is hard to put His touch of power, the lessons He teaches, the mysteries He reveals, into words but you have been able to share something of the beauty and wonder of His working. Thankyou. It has touched many hearts. How true it is that alongside suffering and pain, God reveals aspects of beauty and joy. The verse(Hebrews 12:2) came to mind as I read - Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Thank you again dear friend.
lynn gipson 03/21/13
Congratulations on your well deserved HC. I had a feeling about this one, but didn't want to jinx it! Very beautiful story, very well done.
Margaret Kearley 03/21/13
Many congratulations Alicia -so thrilled that this heart-touching stpry won a well deserved placing. With love - M
Richard Hicks03/21/13
Congrats to a well deserved win! Blessings!
Danielle King 03/21/13
A big congratulations to you Alicia. You did a great job with this one.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/21/13
Congratulations my friend! HAPPY DANCE!!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/22/13
Congratulations on ranking 21 overall!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!!
Bea Edwards 03/23/13
The movie forever changed my views of Jesus' suffering too, making it a real almost tangible experience.
Your emotional descriptions and testimony are a touching reminder of that movie premiere. We went as a church family-perhaps 200 people and the raw emotions and stunned silence as the house lights went up is still etched in my memory.
Well done and a hearty congratulations on 21 overall!
C D Swanson 03/23/13

I am so happy for your HR and your 21 placing overall!

This was a worthy read, and one that obviously touched all those who read it. My sincere congratulations, and I look forward to your next entry.

God Bless,