The View From The Rock

the official blog of Pastor Jim Bradford & Solid Rock Worship Center

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The Hill of Regret

The following is from “No Wonder They Call Him Savior” from Max Lucado.  I highly recommend the book & wanted to share his thoughts here with you.

While Jesus was climbing up the hill of Calvary, Judas was climbing another hill—the hill of regret. He walked it alone. Its trail was rock-strewn with shame and hurt. Its landscape was as barren as his soul. Thorns of remorse tore at his ankles and calves. The lips that had kissed a king were cracked with grief. And on his shoulders he bore a burden that bowed his back—his own failure.

Why Judas betrayed his master is really not important. Whether motivated by anger or greed, the end result was the same—regret.

A few years ago I visited the Supreme Court. As I sat in the visitors’ chambers, I observed the splendor of the scene. The chief justice was flanked by his colleagues. Robed in honor, they were the apex of justice. They represented the efforts of countless minds through thousands of decades. Here was man’s best effort to deal with his own failures.

How pointless it would be, I thought to myself, if I approached the bench and requested forgiveness for my mistakes. Forgiveness for talking back to my fifth grade teacher. Forgiveness for being disloyal to my friends. Forgiveness for pledging “I won’t” on Sunday and saying “I will” on Monday. Forgiveness for the countless hours I have spent wandering in society’s gutters.

It would be pointless because the judge could do nothing. Maybe a few days in jail to appease my guilt, but forgiveness? It wasn’t his to give. Maybe that’s why so many of us spend so many hours on the hill of regret. We haven’t found a way to forgive ourselves.

So up the hill we trudge. Weary, wounded hearts wrestling with unresolved mistakes. Sighs of anxiety. Tears of frustration. Words of rationalization. Moans of doubt. For some the pain is on the surface. For others the hurt is submerged, buried in a rarely touched substrata of bad memories. Parents, lovers, professionals. Some trying to forget, others trying to remember, all trying to cope. We walk silently in single file with leg irons of guilt. Paul was the man who posed the question that is on all of our lips, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”1

At the trail’s end there are two trees.

One is weathered and leafless. It is dead but still sturdy; Its bark is gone, leaving smooth wood bleached white by the years. Twigs and buds no longer sprout, only bare branches fork from the trunk. On the strongest of these branches is tied a hangman’s noose. It was here that Judas dealt with his failure.

If only Judas had looked at the adjacent tree. It is also dead; its wood is also smooth. But there is no noose tied to its crossbeam. No more death on this tree. Once was enough. One death for all.

Those of us who have also betrayed Jesus know better than to be too hard on Judas for choosing the tree he did. To think that Jesus would really unburden our shoulders and unshackle our legs after all we’ve done to him is not easy to believe. In fact, it takes just as much faith to believe that Jesus can look past my betrayals as it does to believe that he rose from the dead. Both are just as miraculous.

What a pair, these two trees. Only a few feet from the tree of despair stands the tree of hope. Life so paradoxically close to death. Goodness within arm’s reach of darkness. A hangman’s noose and a life preserver swinging in the same shadow.

But here they stand.

One can’t help but be a bit stunned by the inconceivability of it all. Why does Jesus stand on life’s most barren hill and await me with outstretched, nail-pierced hands? A “crazy, holy grace” it has been called.2 A type of grace that doesn’t hold up to logic. But then I guess grace doesn’t have to be logical. If it did, it wouldn’t be grace.

1 Romans 7:24
2 Frederick Butcher, The Sacred Journey, p. 52, Harper and Row, 1982.

 

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