At the Cross
Isaac Watts, 1674 -1748
refrain by Ralph Hudson
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!
A few years out of college, I was angry with the world, and God had been silent so long I was sure he was angry with me. I paced my apartment until the walls closed in. Then I walked briskly around the block, once, twice.
On the third time around I saw a middle-aged black man climbing the steps of a small red-brick church about which I knew nothing except what was evident from the sign: The Fire Baptized Holiness Church.
"Wearing patched jeans and flip-flops, I asked the man if I would be welcome. "Anyone can come to church," he answered. And I walked through the sanctuary door, flanked by white-gloved women passing out paper fans printed with Martin Luther King profiles.
As I slipped into a back row, a young girl dressed in starch pointed at me. "She can't stay here; she's got pants on."
The shushing mother smiled at me. "Of course she can." I was welcome, albeit a curiosity.
As was the service to me. It started with fifteen minutes of fervent prayer around the altar. I stayed in my seat, contemplating the words painted on the wall—"I am the way, the truth, and the life"—and silently praying my anger: "But where are you, God?"
Then singing—"Everything's all right, in my Father's house." Over and over and over. A dance of blessing. Up and down the aisles. Jumping till the pews shook.
And testimonies, most confessing unfaithfulness yet thanking God for his faithfulness.
More songs—and with no hymnbooks (no hymn racks!), overheads, or handouts. Everyone knew all the verses.
"Leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms." I sang along and kept praying. God, come to me as you have come to them. Nothing happened. See it doesn't work for me, I finally shrugged.
But then God broke through—with the old, out-of-fashion words of Isaac "Watts, sung in slow, deliberate, half-time:
Alas, and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?
And the refrain, not by Britisher Watts, but by American evangelist Ralph Hudson: "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, / And the burden of my heart rolled away." At that word, my burden of anger lifted as I anticipated the next lines, sung by the Fire Baptized: "It was there by faith I received my sight, / And now I am happy all the day!"
"We blessed singers went on and on—repeating verses and refrains. Where was God? "The way, the truth, and the life" was not only painted on the wall, he was not only "a worm" nailed on a cross (see Psalm 22), he was with me and within me, and eager to let his presence be known as I humbled myself at his bleeding feet.
God doesn't restrict his blessing to those who dance down the church aisles. If you're burdened with anger or feeling God's absence, try meeting him at the cross. Loosen your pack and let him rip it off.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28, 30).
Lord, at the foot of your cross I drop my burden of anger—just drop it. Release it. Let me walk away with a new yoke that is easy to wear, light with grace.
From the book: "Spiritual moments with the Great Hymns" by Evelyn Bence.
YES, THIS IS A CENTRAL PART OF THE GOSPEL. JESUS AS PERSONAL SAVIOR! WE ARE ALL SINNERS, FOR IT IS WRITTEN, ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. BUT JESUS CAME TO DIE FOR SINS, TO DIE FOR YOU AND ME, FOR SIN BRINGS THE DEATH SENTENCE ON US. JESUS DIED IN OUR PLACE, SO WE COULD LIVE!
IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE WHO YOU ARE, HOW FAMOUS OR NOT FAMOUS, HOW WEALTHY YOU ARE, HOW OLD YOU ARE. YOU NEED JESUS AS PERSONAL SAVIOR. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE THE QUANTITY OF SINS, THE MAGNITUDE OF SINS YOU'VE DONE; THEY CAN BE FORGIVEN THROUGH JESUS AS SAVIOR.
AS A YOUNG TEENAGER SITTING IN CHURCH LISTENING TO SOME SERMONS THAT SHOWED WE WERE SINNERS, TEARS WOULD FALL DOWN MY CHEEKS FOR IT HIT HOME...... I WAS A SINNER. I HAD THOUGHT THE WRONG THOUGHTS, SAID THE WRONG WORDS, DONE A WRONG THING, OR NOT DONE A GOOD THING WHEN I SHOULD HAVE. I WAS A SINNER..... I NEEDED JESUS AS MY PERSONAL SAVIOR.
I TOOK JESUS AS MY PERSONAL SAVIOR. WE NEED HIM AS OUR PERSONAL SAVIOR ALL OUR LIVES, FOR WE SHALL SIN FROM TIME TO TIME. WHILE IN THIS BODY OF FLESH WE ARE SINNERS, NEEDING TO CONFESS OUR SINS, NEEDING GOD'S GRACE, NEEDING CHRIST TO INTERCEDE FOR US AS OUR HIGH PRIEST IN HEAVEN.
BEING SAVED BY GRACE, THOUGH SPOKEN ABOUT, FEW REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS. THE SUBJECT OF BEING "SAVED BY GRACE" IS FULLY EXPOUNDED FOR YOU IN AN ARTICLE BY THE SAME NAME ON MY WEBSITE.