Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
TITLE: A CROSS TOO HEAVY
By Hariette Petersen
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I tried to lift the cabinet myself. It weighed too much for me to lift alone. But I wanted a place to display all those things I treasured. His favorite books. His pottery pieces. Pictures of him and hugs and joy. Mementos. I didn’t want to ask anyone to help me. Pride? I don’t know. Well, maybe so. That stupid cabinet embodied all the opposition of life I felt. To conquer it would be a feat worth attaining. I stopped struggling with it and sat down.
Why must I do this alone? Why won’t I just ask for help? Everyone is so busy. No one really cares about it but me. No one knows how important it is, but me. And God. He knows why I want it. He knows that I need it. He cares that I have a place for all my son’s things. The things he made throughout his life. The pictures made as he hugged me and others. The things he’d held in his hand--his softball. His glove. His flat carpenter’s pencil. His cell-phone. The things he’d formed with his hand—art class coffee mugs, a ceramic dinosaur and swordfish. His plaster hand.
I picked up the little plaster hand he’d made me when he was ten. I have no idea quite how they made that mold which later was filled with plaster. But now I have it to hold. His own hand. His fingerprints. His scar. I fingered the scar that wrapped around his hand. The little hand he’d made in fifth grade held so many memories. How God had watched over him that day when he was five. I followed the lifeline that palm readers toy with. I remembered his hand in the casket. The scar never faded.
“It’s nothing less than a miracle,” the surgeon had informed me after the emergency surgery. “I can’t explain it.” Every bone was fractured. Every tendon exposed. It’s nothing less than a miracle that his hand was still intact. I smiled, remembering. The surgeon didn’t know then what I know now. He didn’t know that little hand would go on to pen wonderful letters to me. Wipe away his daughters’ tears. Run his fingers through their hair in a caress of love. Serve food to hungry people. Peel potatoes for morning breakfasts. Tile floors at fair prices for customers. Play softball on a Christian ball team. Underline scripture during worship services. Massage my stress-taut muscles into jelly. No. The surgeon couldn’t have known. No one could have known then that the little five-year-old boy who’d been hit by a school bus would live to be thirty-three years old and accomplish so much. And now taken too soon for my liking.
I pondered these things in my heart as I stared at the obstacle of a cabinet. I thought of Christ’s mother, Mary. How she must have wanted to crawl up there on that cross and take her son’s place. I thought how Jesus could have called ten-thousand angels to release him from it, but didn’t. I thought of how God might have done things differently. God ordained it. Without the cross there would be no glory. No reason for life. Without the cross I’d have no hope of seeing my son again. I thought of Simon who was ordered to carry the cross when Jesus fell beneath its weight on the road to Golgatha. God provided another to help His Son carry His load.
I stared at the shelf again and stood up. I was determined to place it atop the pie safe in my living-room. I bent my knees and planted my feet. I’d hoist it with all my might. Just as I took a deep breath and summoned the strength I’d need, I felt the load lighten beneath my arms. My husband had grabbed the bottom side and it went up with ease. Unexpectedly, God provided.
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