This is a repost of a blog post from a friend from a couple of years back. I wanted to repost it…

-=-=-=Repost is as follows=-=-=-

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hammer and Nail
Current mood: Released
Category: Released Religion and Philosophy

There are times when God grabs you by the heart and grips so tightly that his presence inside of you is palpable and ubiquitous. It’s more invigorating than any sensation humanity can trigger: stage fright, first kiss, job interview, “I do.” I need no greater evidence that God lives within me daily than this; He lives whether my heart is gripped or not. He does not respond to the ebb and flow of the emotions of our lives, but rather maintains the steadiness of the hand of a surgeon, never failing, never faltering, never zigging when I’m zagging, always present until his surgery on my life is complete, when he can say as Christ did on the cross: “it is finished.”

This intensity was never more present for me than in Church one Sunday a few years ago. How appropriate a place for God to move. The venue, however, was just a vessel for the work that God wants to do everyday. The venue was more about my willingness and openness to absorb it than God’s desire to suddenly impart it, as He desires it always.

This particular Sunday, I was visiting a new Church, trying to discover if it was my faith’s new home. Not to be anti-climactic, but I moved in immediately. The pastor began the sermon asking us to call to mind the one thing in our lives that wreaks the most havoc. The one sin we’ve never been able to overcome; the one hurt that haunts us when we are quiet; the one failure we have let defeat us over and over again; he wanted us to let those things resurface to the place in our minds from which the memory would retreat, to allow the pain to resonate just once more…once and for all. As he preached about the power of God to overcome, he asked that we keep our Pandora’s Box in mind, to view it through the scope of God’s power and to watch the façade of its beastly grandeur diminish.

I had mine. I could think of more than one, so I held three in my mind. Three things in my life that bound me tighter than any noose could ever bind. I had hung myself on these things repeatedly, only to be left barely breathing, a writhing carcass of my pain and sin, twitching as I dangled, praying for reprieve. It’s a gruesome image of capitulation, but frankly, the death of sin and heartache is so much worse than that.

After preaching for a while about the freedom of God, whose burden is easy and yoke is light, the pastor told the persons at the end of the rows to look beneath their chairs to find a basket with paper and pencils in it. He asked that we pass that basket down to the end of the row and for each person to take a sheet and a pencil. My heart began to pulsate harder; I could feel it in my throat. I had no idea what was coming, but I could feel the permeating Spirit of God fill and flow through the room, as tangible as a breeze. You feel it certainly, all the while wondering from where it comes, where it is, and where it’s going. In fact, the Bible describes his Spirit in our lives in exactly that way (John 3:8). After everyone had taken a paper and pencil, the pastor asked us to write our “thing” on it, to bring it to the light of day, to put down the words in order that Satan could no longer thrive in the cloak of darkness and secrecy. I remember trembling as I wrote “1. 2. 3.” It took me a moment to gather the courage to write any text after the numbers, but once I did, I remember feeling a release. Not completely, but as if the weight were beginning to subside. I exhaled deeply and closed my eyes.

To my surprise, at this moment, every door in the auditorium burst open with a thud, and through the doors came about 8-10 men, with life sized, wooden crosses upon their backs, hunched over from the weight, plodding down the aisles to the front of the sanctuary. My heart stopped pulsating and rather paused in the place between my mouth and my stomach. I didn’t breathe for fear of disrupting the moment; I didn’t swallow for fear of restarting my heart; I just sat there watching in amazement as the symbol of everything I believed and the freedom from everything that bound me passed my row and proceeded to the front. My eyes never left the sight, neither through blink nor disconjugate stare.

The men worked to lay the crosses down gently against the stage. The weight was almost unbearable, and you could see the torment in the hearts and faces of the men as they carried the killer of their Savior, as the gravity of this moment compelled them. I would compare it to the horror and disgust of a Jew donning a swastika, and I mean absolutely no disrespect in that comparison. Paradoxically, I would also compare it to the honor of washing Jesus’ feet, because while Jesus’ death on the cross was the most disgusting thing that could ever happen to the Son of God, it also was the greatest moment of triumph in Christian history.

The audience had been silent from the moment we began to identify our albatrosses. We were silent still as the pastor began to speak. He said in paraphrase: “These crosses are symbols of your freedom from pain and sin. Everything you have written down has already been cleansed and forgiven. What remains is you forgiving, either yourself or another person. Come forward as you feel compelled. You will find a basket of hammers and nails beside each cross. When you are ready, I want you to nail those pieces of paper to the cross, to give a physical representation of a spiritual release. Place them where they belong, upon the cross, that you might live life abundantly.” My heart started beating again, harder, more drumming than before. I could feel it in my throat, my chest, my stomach, my head, my fingertips. I knew what was happening was monumental for me. I knew I was about to be free.

I prayed for this journey to the front, that once and for all I could be released. Many went before me as I stayed in my seat, and the pounding of the hammers began to echo in defiance of the acoustics. With every echo, I could feel it as deeply within me as I ever knew existed. The echoes picked up in pace and volume as more people went forward. Like the sounds of a tribal drum, they compelled me from my seat. Almost entranced, I walked the short distance to the cross. I picked up MY hammer; I picked out MY nail; and I began to pound with a vehemence I had never known. I was angered by the piece of life these things had stolen from me. I was angered at their façade of power, merely a shell of the power I thought they had. With every contact of my hammer to my nail, with every resounding echo of the others around me, I felt my pain lift, slowly, as if beckoned out of me with each thud, like a cobra from a basket at the sound of a bamboo flute, every strike bringing more release than the next. Finally, my nail was secure, and it seemed even dynamite would not dislodge my sin from the grain of that wooden cross. I stared at it a moment before I proceeded to my seat, lighter and freer than I had ever felt before. My tears fell into the creases of my smile. It was finished.

Some may scoff that I gave in to the brain washing power of the words and circumstances of my pastor. Some may deny there was anything at all. But I tell you as surely as I write this, in the moment the pastor asked us to identify our pain, three things came to me immediately. I remember them being so enormously incapacitating that I felt suffocated just to recall them. I remember the process of writing them down to be as difficult as experiencing them. I remember that they had existed for years, and I remember doubting the exercise consequently would ever free me. But today, as I put these words on paper, I cannot recall to mind what I wrote. I can speculate, but I have no idea what it was that bound me so tightly that day to create such a reaction within me.

The truth, though, is that I was free long before I put hammer to nail, long before I put sight to my words, long before I put words to my emotions. I had been free since before these things had happened. Through Satan’s lies, however, he made me feel bound beyond what I could break. I had given him more power than he could ever command. He was powerless until I freely turned myself over to him. The activity was unnecessary for God to forgive me or to free me; it was only meant for my well-being, so that I might begin the process of grasping how far and wide and deep is the love of God, a journey that will never be fully revealed until I see him face to face, when he can truly say without continuance: “it is finished.”