Why I Wear a Cross

A few days ago, someone asked me why I wear a gold cross around my neck. Well, I’ll tell you why.

Have you ever been madly in love with someone, and they give you something – a ring, a bracelet – that will always remind you of them? That’s why I wear this cross around my neck. Someone very special gave it to me, and it will forever remind me of him.

You know, people don’t believe in heroes anymore. But I do. I was rescued by one. He’s the guy that gave me the cross.

I still remember that night. Things were bad – as bad as they’d ever been. Not that things had ever been great. Ever since I came into this world, all I knew was that the world hated me. I was told I was worthless from day one. Rejected, abandoned, beaten up. I felt guilty for breathing the air. I should never have been born. I soon discovered it was way less painful to go ahead and beat myself up before anyone else did.

The world was a very dark place. Brutal. I stumbled from one battle to the next. Finally I ended up living in the middle of a war zone in New York City. I lived in a prison cell; it felt like a cage, which was where I belonged. There was violence and hatred all around me. And inside of me. I had no idea which was worse. I really don’t think it matters.

It’s not like I sat through it without a fight. Nah-ah. I fought like crazy to get out of there. Every time I tried, I got kicked back down, knocked out. More chains, more prison bars, more whips, more lies. The sounds of explosions growing louder outside, shaking the earth.

Still I fought. (It’s just who I am.)

One night, I had enough. It was a very dark night for me, because I never thought I could give up fighting. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have anything left.

So I gave up.

As I sat on the floor of the prison in the dark, my body and my heart ripped apart from the battle, all I could think was, “Why was I ever born?”

“I’ll tell you why.”

I looked up, startled. I thought I was alone. But there was this guy standing there. He had a key to the cell. He opened the door, came in and knelt down in front of me. I would’ve backed away from him, because I was scared. But I had nothing left. I just sat there and stared, praying that if he was gonna do something bad to me, he’d just get it over with.

Instead, he reached for my hand. He gave me this look I’d never seen before. I can’t even describe it. It was so beautiful it made me cry.

“I’ll get you out of here.”

I shook my head. “You can’t,” I whispered. I looked at the chains that held me to the wall.

“I’ll get you out. You have to trust me.”

“I can’t move.”

“Will you trust me?”

I wanted to. Finally I nodded.

Within seconds he unlocked every chain. He helped me to my feet, but my legs were too wobbly.

“Grab on,” he said.

“I can’t.” I fell to the floor.

“Come on, grab on.” He pulled me to my feet again, then he helped me up on his back. I wrapped my arms around his neck.

We went out the same way I’d come in. Right through the war zone. Gunfire, red hot explosions on all sides, the ground shaking beneath us, shouts of “Kill her!” echoing off the city walls. I saw one of the monsters who hated me the most. He snarled at me, his eyes glowing blood red. He had a grenade in his hand, and he hurled it at me. I cried out and closed my eyes, buried my face against my rescuer’s shoulders. The ground rocked. I felt the heat of the explosion, heard the pounding of rubble. Then a horrific scream. I thought it was mine.

When I realized I wasn’t dead, I opened my eyes. My attacker was sprawled on the ground, buried under the rubble he had caused. Another ran up, and I watched as my rescuer beat him to a pulp. He took out 10, 12, 18 at a time. I’d never seen anything like it. He moved so fast it made my head spin. They never knew what hit them.

Over and over, he beat back everyone who tried to kill me, all the way to the end of the war zone. We broke free, and left the fire and debris behind us. We traveled on through the night. Somewhere in the darkness I fell asleep. When I awoke, the sun was up. It hurt my eyes, it was so bright. For the first time in my life, the air was clear. I started to choke, because I could finally breathe.

When I could speak, I whispered to him, “I don’t ever want to go back there.”

“You don’t have to,” he said. “You’re free.”

“But … ?”

He shook his head. “You’re free.”

Then he handed me a gold cross on a chain.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was so tired. I fell asleep again, safe in his arms, grasping the cross in my hand. I’ve never let go of it since that day. I will never forget the way he got me out of prison and carried me through the war zone to freedom.

***
I grew up in the church, as a “Christian.” But I never really knew who Jesus was. I never knew who God was.

I didn’t become a true Christian (“a follower of Christ, a lover of Christ”) until that dark night when Jesus opened my prison cell, and carried me out through the hell that surrounded me. I didn’t become a true Christian until Jesus told me how the world had lied to me. He told me I was not worthless. He didn’t just tell me. He showed me by his actions.

And he beat the crap out of the enemy on my behalf.

I never knew how fierce Jesus was – how fiercely he fights, and how fiercely he loves – until that night.

That’s why I’m a Christian. That’s why I wear his cross around my neck. That’s why I will go wherever he is. I just want to be with him. I can’t survive in this world without him.

There are lots of “nice” reasons to become a Christian. I didn’t become a Christian for nice reasons. I became a Christian for one reason only: because of Jesus.

There are lots of “nice” reasons to wear a cross around your neck. I don’t wear my cross for nice reasons. I wear it because I remember what it was like to be in prison. I remember what the war zone was like. And I know who rescued me. I know who cared about me when no one else did. I know who truly loves me.

And I know who is strong enough and fierce enough to protect me.

What Jesus did for me, he will do for anybody.

It’s like he said: “Trust me.”

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