"...keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2 [NET])

I don't know how many times I have advised people through the years to take the time to contemplate the cross, yet to my shame, I have so rarely engaged in this activity. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because of the overwhelming sense of guilt I feel when I think of Jesus' suffering in the garden, in the hands of the Pharisees and the Romans, and especially on the cross. Cognitively I know I’m forgiven, but I still can't help thinking about how my sin put Him there.

This morning I was drawn to do just that: To contemplate the suffering of Jesus at the cross. And as I knelt beside my couch in my living room, it was only a few moments before I was reduced to bitter tears. Crying out in my guilt and my shame, I suddenly I felt a presence beside me. I looked over, and I saw a vision of Jesus, bowed down in the Garden, praying bitterly. It was so real that I could see the drops of blood upon His brow, and I found myself reaching over to touch Him. "I'm so sorry, Jesus!" I cried. "I'm so sorry I have done this to you!"

In my mind, Jesus' countenance changed then. The blood cleared, and the anguish was replaced by a glorious smile as He stood up and offered me His hand. Then He said something I would have never expected to hear: "Thank you!"

For the first time I realized that Jesus' purpose in asking us to contemplate the cross is not for us to wallow in guilt. He simply wants us to remember: to remember what He did for us, to remember where we came from and where we would be without Him.

But He wasn't finished with me yet that morning. I could hear Him say: "Follow me." And in my mind, I saw Him running, leaping over treetops, floating over rivers and valleys, skirting the mountaintops.

I hesitated, but only for a moment. When He turned around and motioned for me to come, I did. Soon I, too, was leaping over treetops, floating over rivers and valleys, and skirting the mountaintops.

Jesus looked back and winked at me before disappearing into a tunnel. I didn't even take the time to stop and think, I simply followed Him through the dark place and together we emerged into the sunshine on the other side. Only then did I realize that I hadn't even looked around me in the tunnel.

Jesus then leapt over a particularly large valley, and on the opposite side He turned again and motioned for me to follow. I looked down, and then I began to climb down into the valley, but I could hear Jesus calling out to me: "Take that leap in faith, My child!"

I did, and like Him, I, too, leapt to the other side.

The little "vision" ended at this point, and I could again feel my knees on the carpet and my elbows on the rough fabric of my couch. Jesus' message to me throughout all of this was gelled in my mind: By humbling myself enough to contemplate the cross, I was preparing myself for this journey in faith. I was equipping myself to follow Jesus anywhere. All I needed to do was keep my eyes fixed upon Him, never doubting, and I could go anywhere. I could pass through dark times, leap valleys and soar from mountain top to mountain top.

It is easy enough to tell people, "Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus through the hard times," but in all reality, it is difficult to do. Impossible, actually. You see, unless you have placed your trust 100% in Him for all areas of your life, you will not be able to keep your eyes on Him in the dark times. Unless you have first taken that all-important step: Unless you have humbled yourself before Jesus. Unless you have fully embraced His sacrifice.

The Easter season will soon be upon us. Why not take some time today to contemplate Jesus' sacrifice, to humble yourself before Him, to fully embrace His sacrifice? Will you join me today?

In His love,

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.