When Tom was working in Barcelona we decided to visit the royal palace in Madrid, Spain. It’s still used for official functions, so the grounds and adornments of the interior are still palatial. As we ascended the staircase in the entrance hall I studied the wide marble steps and felt indentations beneath my feet made by the thousands of guests that ascended and descended this same stairway before us.
Tom glanced over his shoulder and said, “We’re walking in the footsteps of kings, honey.” Without even taking a moment to think, I responded, “There is only one King in whose footsteps I care to follow.”
The words came out so quickly that I shocked myself. Where did that come from? Because really, my next immediate thought was, “But Lord, Your footsteps led to the cross. Do I really want to follow in Your footsteps?” And there, standing before me I felt His presence. My Lord. The one that carried that heavy cross for me and allowed himself to be crucified on it. For me. He was smiling at me, and his eyes were boring into mine. And what I felt at that moment was Love. I felt His Love. The coldness that first gripped me when my encounter began faded away and warmth filled me, like that breath catching moment when you first fall in love. And in that instant I knew that even if my footsteps led me to a cross, I would remember His smile and piercing eyes forever. I would not be alone. He would be right there with me. I could do it.
It’s several years later, and I don’t think too much about the “cross” part of my encounter with the Lord. I mean really, why would I want to speculate on the type of cross I may have to carry? We all have crosses to bear, but I see more to following Christ than just the cross.
The feet of Jesus carried him to the cross because that is how he saved us. Before that, Jesus loved. He healed the blind and brought the dead back to life. He saw value and worth in a scandalous woman who was about to be stoned, and instead of condemnation and death He gave her forgiveness and freedom.
Do I really follow in my King’s footsteps? Do I love? Do I heal? Do I forgive? Do I follow Him into the murky waters of conflict and search for answers which are true to my faith? I hope so. How about you?
When I studied the Gospel of Mark last year I was struck by Jesus’ love and mercy. This Lent I’m going to find time to read it again. Once again, Happy Lent!