The Cross Chapter 16




Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Man in Holland

E_Books~TheCross~Cross_Page32~~element93​The events of today keep filling my mind, and I feel such complex emotions. It has been a horrendous struggle of life and blood. I held a man in the battle to either live or die. His blood has stained my clothes and hands, but I cannot wash the pain away. I keep looking at my hands and wondering how to be my brother’s keeper. I want to be the emergency crew for the bruised and broken along the roads of life. The burden for the world that is within me is far harder to carry than the wooden cross. I feel the pain, I touch the people and live with them in this world. Oh, Jesus, this is the night for weeping and caring for the lost and hurting. May I be an instrument of your peace, salvation and life. So often we are blind to the needs. I remember, Jesus when you were in the garden, the night before your crucifixion, you asked three of your disciples to go with you to watch and pray, yet they kept falling asleep. Oh, Lord God, may I not sleep when someone needs me. Keep me awake to your will and be able to see the world through your eyes. Baptize me in your passion, Jesus, and baptize me with the fire of your love that truly makes me my brother’s keeper in every way. I lift your cross up, Jesus, knowing You will draw all to yourself. I pray for a mighty move of your Spirit to empower your children to share the message of Jesus with others. Send forth your laborers into the harvest! I close my eyes now, and I can see the harvest of world coming in.


Fall into Safety
Arthur-images-99Much of my life has been lived walking alongside the roads of the world. Danger from traffic is ever present as cars and trucks rush by just inches away from my body. The roadside are littered with bottles, rocks, sticks and other rubble, making it difficult to walk.
When carrying the cross along the road, I always plan that if I should stumble, to fall away from the road and not into the traffic. It’s become an automatic response for me: the second I realize I’m about to stumble or fall, I lean away from the road. There might not be traffic at that moment, but just imagine what could happen to me if there was!
The same is true for all of us on the road of life. Leaning one way can lead to danger and leaning the other can lead to safety. When I stumble on life’s roadways, I want to fall into the arms of Jesus – not away from him.
The roads we walk are filled with the dangers of temptation and deceit. These stumbling stones and vines can trip us up on our walk with the Lord. Our desire should be never to stumble or fall, but to live in the perfect way of Jesus. Yet, should you stumble, always fall away from the dangers of drugs, drink, depression, anger, past addictions and anything else that might take you away from Jesus. Fall into his arms where there is hope, strength, security, love, mercy and life. Fall into grace. Fall into love. Jesus loves you. God isn’t mad at you, He cares for you.
The very second you sense the temptation to fall away from him, lean the other way. Remember what he says in his Word. Pray. Stop and think about what you’re about to do. Before you take one step in the wrong direction, turn around; picture Jesus with outstretched arms welcoming you into his embrace of safety.

Jesus Stands Ready to Catch You
Even children can fall into the arms of Jesus. That’s where it started for me.
The year was 1947 and I was seven years old. A church in the rural community of Goodwill, Louisiana, had erected a temporary shelter called a brush arbor. Sawdust had been scattered on the ground and wooden pews had been brought in.
The evangelist preached about Jesus and for the first time in my young life, I felt spiritually lost and in need of forgiveness. I wanted to invite Jesus into my life. I wanted to fall into his arms. I started to go to the front when the minister called for people to come and pray. But my mother, thinking I didn’t understand what was being asked of me, wouldn’t let me go.
On the way home after the meeting, I asked my mother why she wouldn’t let me give my heart to Jesus. My dad stopped the truck and turned around. It was dark when we arrived back at the meeting place. The lights were off, but I saw the evangelist and the pastor getting into a car. I ran to the evangelist and told him I knew I was a sinner, I wanted Jesus to save me and I wanted to live for Jesus all my life.
That man of God knelt in the dirt and explained to me how I could know Jesus and then he said he would lead me in a prayer. I repeated a simple prayer asking Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life. I knew in that moment Jesus washed my sins away as I fell into his arms. My soul was at peace and has been ever since.
Asking Jesus into your heart is the first step in walking with him the rest of your life. In the next chapter I’ll give those of you who have never invited Jesus into your life an opportunity to do just that. For now, I want you to image falling into his arms. This is a metaphor for trusting him and trust is essential when you invite him into your heart and decide to live as his follower. Trust overcomes fear. Trust brings joy. Trust in Jesus will change your life.

The following stories are about people from various parts of the world who chose to fall into the arms of Jesus and receive those blessings.

Poland – In 1983 I walked through Poland as thousands of people followed the cross. One day when I stopped for a break and was sitting under a tree, a young woman came running to me, speaking rapidly. I asked my interpreter what she was saying. “She heard that you know how to find Jesus,” he replied.
I noticed that both of the young woman’s legs were bleeding. “What’s wrong with her legs?” I asked the interpreter.
“Do you see that hill over there and the people climbing it on their knees? She has been climbing that hill on her knees to show her love for Christ. Someone just told her that the man with the cross knows how to talk with Jesus, so she came to see if you can tell her how to find him.”
I discovered that her name was Anna and that she was twenty-four years old. She had short blond hair and beautiful clear eyes.
Tears streamed down her face as she sat there with bloody legs.
I said to Anna, through the interpreter, “Jesus loved you before you ever started up that hill and he loves you now that you have come down. All your blood was unnecessary. He has already shed his blood for you. Now I know that Jesus appreciates your desire to show him your love, but you don’t have to do that to prove you love him. He can live in your heart.”
I explained to Anna how Christ died for and was offering her the gift of salvation. She could pray to invite Jesus into her heart and he would become her Savior. I led Anna in a short prayer. Then she leaped into my lap and hugged me, crying and smiling. Then she jumped up and started to run away.
“Wait, wait. Come back!” I called.
She turned and said,”I have found Jesus. I found him; now I know him. That is all I need. Now I can go. I’ve found him! I’ve found him!”
And she ran away.
Anna understood that she no longer had to climb that hill on her knees for Jesus to love and accept her. She trusted him. She fell into his arms.
You don’t have to prove your sorrow for sin by self-inflicted punishment. Jesus has already borne your sins and carried your sorrows. Trust him and invite him in.

Switzerland – One day in 1984 while I was carrying the cross in Switzerland, I struck up a conversation with a businessman. When I said to him, “Jesus loves you,” the man replied, “I hope so.”
“I have good news for you,” I said and then I shared the gospel with him. I’ll never forget his response when I said to him, “Jesus wants to come into your heart.”
“Oh, no. If He looked into my heart, what he’d see would be so bad he would not dare enter – nor would he want to enter.”
Tears filled my eyes as I invited him to the house where I was spending the night.
That evening he received a clean heart as Christ came to live within him. He saw that Jesus invites everyone to trust him and follow him. He leaned away from his belief that Jesus would reject him and into the arms outstretched to hold him.

South Africa — During my crosswalk in South Africa, we had a great “rally for Jesus” in Cape Town. People of all races gathered to worship the Lord. My cross was leaning against the platform. While we sang, I noticed a man sitting near the front. I cold tell he was blind, since it was apparent he had no eyeballs.
I left the platform, went to the man and asked him if he spoke English. When he replied that he did, I told him who I was and invited him to come feel the cross, since he couldn’t see it. He said he would like that.
I led the man to the cross and then watched something amazing happen. He touched the cross in a tender and loving way, a way I had never seen it touched before. He seemed to be crying, but without tears. He felt the cross all the way to the bottom. It was so moving that the entire audience wept
This blind man brought passion and freshness to the meaning of the cross. The man without eyes saw things most people are blind to. It was obvious whom he trusted. This man had already chosen to follow Jesus and he lived in the safety of his embrace.

New Zealand – While we were near Wellington, New Zealand, on a cold day in 1995, I carried the cross along a highway beside the beach. I noticed a young lady in jogging clothes running in the sand. Soon after I started carrying the cross up a steep, narrow road into the mountains.
Suddenly I heard someone calling me. I looked up to see the young woman in the jogging clothes in front of me. She had emerged from a trail up ahead and was running toward me on the road.
“Why are you carrying that cross?” she asked. She was short of breath and seemed anxious to hear my answer.
I explained my mission of walking with the cross around the world.
The woman then told me she had been living near the beach for about two years. She shared that her life had become unbearable. She had planned to run into the sea that day and drown. She was going for her final run.
She said she stopped and cried to God: “I need life. Just then she looked up and saw the cross!”

“I have come to the cross!” she declared. Then the young woman burst into tears.
I talked to her about the love and mercy and salvation of Jesus. We prayed together and she repented and gave her heart and life to Jesus. It was glorious.
I will never forget what she then said: “Now I have life.”
Like so many other desperate people, this precious young woman turned away from ending her life and fell into the arms of Jesus.

Holland – I had been carrying the cross through Holland in 1983.
One morning I was ministering in the streets of Amsterdam with a Youth With a Mission group. Near a tram stop a young woman on our team came running up, pleading, “Arthur, Arthur, you are needed over here. Come quickly.”
She led me and the others on our team to a crowd of people watching a man trying to kill himself. He had run his arm through a plate-glass window and blood was pouring out of his arm. He was beating his head against a big steel container.
I tried to grab him and cut off the flow of blood. He turned toward me with his other arm coiled back, ready to hit me. He was about thirty years old and he was strong and muscular.
We said, “You don’t have to kill yourself. Jesus died for you, he loves you.”
He responded by cursing. He kept turning to beat his head. We grabbed him again and he again drew back his arm, ready to hit us. His blood was gushing.
Finally, I said to him, “Listen, we are not going to let you die here. These other people can watch you die, but we love you. We are going to grab your arm and stop the flow of blood. If you want to beat us to death, we will die with you; but we are not going to let you die alone. Jesus has already shed his blood for you and you don’t have to shed your blood to kill yourself. He has already died to save you.”
He looked at me, drew back his fish and then fell into my arms – crying like a baby. After a brief explanation, I led him in a prayer to invite Christ into his heart. He was in the arms of Jesus now
This man finally gave up his attempts to end a life that had trusted in nothing secure and had lost all hope. He was safe. He had fallen in the right direction and there was new hope in his future.

We Who Know Jesus are Called to Show Others the Way
An ambulance arrived and some of the ministry team went with the man, who was still bleeding profusely, to the hospital. I had blood all over me, so I went to my room to bathe.
When I got to my room, I washed my hands in the sink. The blood on my hands was washed away by the water from the faucet. I remembered how Pilate tried to wash his hands of the blood of Jesus. It seemed like the Lord was saying to me, “Arthur, you can’t wash your hands of the blood of a lost, sick and dying world.”
Tears filled my eyes as I thought, “We are responsible for them. We can’t isolate ourselves into spiritual clubs full of joy and praise but with no involvement in a hurting and painful world. We must be in the world but not of the world. Jesus didn’t remain in heaven – because the love of God demanded action. Jesus came in the flesh; he got involved. So must we.”
How many of us try to wash our hands of the world – watching, like the crowd on that street in Amsterdam, while others die? Oh, God have mercy on us! Let us be there to embrace a hurting world with the love of Jesus.
No one is too sinful or too far gone. God will hear the prayer of anyone who wants to know him, whether that person is a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an atheist or a member of a Christian church who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus. The only prayer God rejects is one from the self-righteous, as Jesus showed us in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee
and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and
prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like
other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like
this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all
I get.”
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even
look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have
mercy on me, a sinner.”
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home
justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be
humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Luke 18:10-14)

We are called to tell everyone about Jesus, even the self-righteous. If they still choose to turn away from the love and safety of the arms of Jesus, that is their choice. But at least they will have heard the truth of the gospel.
It is not for us to judge who will follow and who will not. It is for us to point the way of the cross along the road of life. It is for us to show others how to lean into the arms of Jesus, away from the dangerous traffic that can harm them.

The next chapter is an invitation to follow Jesus. If you have never invited Jesus into your life, the next two pages may be the most important ones you will ever read. Please read on.