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Copyright © 2001 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
He deserves our compassion. When you see him, do not laugh. Do not mock. Do not turn away or shake your head. Just gently lead him to the nearest bench and help him sit down.
Have pity on the man. He is so fearful, so wide-eyed. He's a deer on the streets of Manhattan. Tarzan walking through the urban jungle. He's a beached whale, wondering how he got here and how he'll get out.
Who is this forlorn creature? This ashen-faced orphan? He is-please remove your hats out of respect-he is the man in the women's department. Looking for a gift.
The season may be Christmas. The occasion may be her birthday or their anniversary. Whatever the motive, he has come out of hiding. Leaving behind his familiar habitat of sporting goods stores, food courts, and the big-screen television in the appliance department, he ventures into the unknown world of women's wear. You'll spot him easily. He's the motionless one in the aisle. Were it not for the sweat rings under his arms, you'd think he was a mannequin.
But he isn't. He is a man in a woman's world, and he's never seen so much underwear. At the Wal-Mart where he buys his, it's all wrapped up and fits on one shelf. But here he is in a forest of lace. His father warned him about places like this. Though the sign above says "linger-ie," he knowshe shouldn't.
So he moves on, but he doesn't know where to go. You see, not every man has been prepared for this moment as I was. My father saw the challenge of shopping for women as a rite of passage, right in there with birds and bees and tying neckties. He taught my brother and me how to survive when we shopped. I can remember the day he sat us down and taught us two words. To get around in a foreign country, you need to know the language, and my father taught us the language of the ladies' department.
"There will come a time," he said solemnly, "when a salesperson will offer to help you. At that moment take a deep breath and say this phrase, 'Es-tie Lau-der.'" On every gift-giving occasion for years after, my mom received three gifts from the three men in her life: Estie Lauder, Estie Lauder, and Estie Lauder.
My fear of the women's department was gone. But then I met Denalyn. Denalyn doesn't like Estie Lauder. Though I told her it made her smell motherly, she didn't change her mind. I've been in a bind ever since.
This year for her birthday I opted to buy her a dress. When the salesperson asked me Denalyn's size, I said I didn't know. I honestly don't. I know I can wrap my arm around her and that her hand fits nicely in mine. But her dress size? I never inquired. There are certain questions a man doesn't ask.
The woman tried to be helpful. "How does she compare to me?" Now, I was taught to be polite to women, but I couldn't be polite and answer that question. There was only one answer, "She is thinner."
I stared at my feet, looking for a reply. After all, I write books. Surely I could think of the right words.
I considered being direct: "She is less of you."
Or complimentary: "You are more of a woman than she is."
Perhaps a hint would suffice? "I hear the store is downsizing."
Finally I swallowed and said the only thing I knew to say, "Estie Lauder?"
She pointed me in the direction of the perfume department, but I knew better than to enter. I would try the purses. Thought it would be easy. What could be complicated about selecting a tool for holding cards and money? I've used the same money clip for eight years. What would be difficult about buying a purse?
Oh, naive soul that I am. Tell an attendant in the men's department that you want a wallet, and you're taken to a small counter next to the cash register. Your only decision is black or brown. Tell an attendant in the ladies' department that you want a purse, and you are escorted to a room. A room of shelves. Shelves with purses. Purses with price tags. Small but potent price tags ... prices so potent they should remove the need for a purse, right?
I was pondering this thought when the salesperson asked me some questions. Questions for which I had no answer. "What kind of purse would your wife like?" My blank look told her I was clueless, so she began listing the options: "Handbag? Shoulder bag? Glove bag? Backpack? Shoulder pack? Change purse?"
Dizzied by the options, I had to sit down and put my head between my knees lest I faint. Didn't stop her. Leaning over me, she continued, "Moneybag? Tote bag? Pocketbook? Satchel?"
"Satchel?" I perked up at the sound of a familiar word. Satchel Paige pitched in the major leagues. This must be the answer. I straightened my shoulders and said proudly, "Satchel."
Apparently she didn't like my answer. She began to curse at me in a foreign language. Forgive me for relating her vulgarity, but she was very crude. I didn't understand all she said, but I do know she called me a "Dooney Bird" and threatened to "brighten" me with a spade that belonged to someone named Kate. When she laid claim to "our mawny," I put my hand over the wallet in my hip pocket and defied, "No, it's my money." That was enough. I got out of there as fast as I could. But as I left the room, I gave her a bit of her own medicine. "Estie Lauder!" I shouted and ran as fast as I could.
Oh, the things we do to give gifts to those we love.
But we don't mind, do we? We would do it all again. Fact is, we do it all again. Every Christmas, every birthday, every so often we find ourselves in foreign territory. Grownups are in toy stores. Dads are in teen stores. Wives are in the hunting department, and husbands are in the purse department.
Not only do we enter unusual places, we do unusual things. We assemble bicycles at midnight. We hide the new tires with mag wheels under the stairs. One fellow I heard about rented a movie theater so he and his wife could see their wedding pictures on their anniversary.
And we'd do it all again. Having pressed the grapes of service, we drink life's sweetest wine-the wine of giving. We are at our best when we are giving. In fact, we are most like God when we are giving.
Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn't have known the difference. But he didn't.
He splashed orange in the sunrise
and cast the sky in blue. And if you love to see geese as they gather,
chances are you'll see that too. Did he have to make the squirrel's tail furry?
Was he obliged to make the birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry
or the majesty of thunder when it rings? Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?
Could it be
he loves to see
that look upon your face?
If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would he? If we-speckled with foibles and greed-love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us? Jesus asked, "If you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won't your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?" (Matt. 7:11 TLB).
God's gifts shed light on God's heart, God's good and generous heart. Jesus' brother James tells us: "Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light" (James 1:17 MSG). Every gift reveals God's love ... but no gift reveals his love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood.
The gifts of the cross.
Much has been said about the gift of the cross itself, but what of the other gifts? What of the nails, the crown of thorns? The garments taken by the soldiers. The garments given for the burial. Have you taken time to open these gifts?
He didn't have to give them, you know. The only act, the only required act for our salvation was the shedding of blood, yet he did much more. So much more. Search the scene of the cross, and what do you find?
A wine-soaked sponge.
Two crosses beside Christ.
Divine gifts intended to stir that moment, that split second when your face will brighten, your eyes will widen, and God will hear you whisper, "You did this for me?"
The diadem of pain
which sliced your gentle face,
three spikes piercing flesh and wood
to hold you in your place.
The need for blood I understand.
Your sacrifice I embrace. But the bitter sponge, the cutting spear,
the spit upon your face?
Did it have to be a cross?
Did not a kinder death exist than six hours hanging between life and death,
all spurred by a betrayer's kiss?
"Oh, Father," you pose,
heart-stilled at what could be, "I'm sorry to ask, but I long to know,
did you do this for me?"
Dare we pray such a prayer? Dare we think such thoughts? Could it be that the hill of the cross is rich with God's gifts? Let's examine them, shall we? Let's unwrap these gifts of grace as if-or perhaps, indeed-for the first time. And as you touch them-as you feel the timber of the cross and trace the braid of the crown and finger the point of the spike-pause and listen. Perchance you will hear him whisper:
"I did it just for you."
"I WILL BEAR "YOUR DARK BIDE"
God's Promise in the Soldiers' Spit
Sin lurks deep in the hearts of the wicked,
forever urging them on to evil deeds.
Psalm 36:1 TLB
* * *
Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that ... those who write against it want to have the glory of having written well; and those who
read it desire the glory of having read it.
* * *
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
JEREMIAH 17:9 NIV
* * *
Sin, understood in the Christian sense, is the rent which
cuts through the whole of existence.
* * *
Oh this propensity to evil how did you creep in to
cover the earth with treachery?
Ecclesiasticus 37:3 APOC
What would have happened to the Beast if the Beauty hadn't appeared?
You know the story. There was a time when his face was handsome and his palace pleasant. But that was before the curse, before the shadows fell on the castle of the prince, before the shadows fell on the heart of the prince. And when the darkness fell, he hid. Secluded in his castle, he was left with glistening snout and curly tusks and a bad mood.
But all that changed when the girl came. I wonder, what would have happened to the Beast if the Beauty hadn't appeared?
Better yet, what would have happened if she hadn't cared? Who would have blamed her if she hadn't? He was such a ... well, such a beast. Hairy. Drooling. Roaring. Defying. And she was such a beauty. Stunningly gorgeous. Contagiously kind. If ever two people lived up to their names, didn't the Beauty and the Beast? Who would have blamed her if she hadn't cared? But she did care.
And because the Beauty loved the Beast, the Beast became more beautiful himself.
The story's familiar, not just because it's a fairy tale. It's familiar because it reminds us of ourselves. There is a beast within each of us.
It wasn't always so. There was a time when humanity's face was beautiful and the palace pleasant. But that was before the curse, before the shadow fell across the garden of Adam, before the shadow fell across the heart of Adam. And ever since the curse, we've been different. Beastly. Ugly. Defiant. Angry. We do things we know we shouldn't do and wonder why we did them.
The ugly part of me sure showed his beastly face the other night. I was driving on a two-lane road that was about to become a single lane. A woman in a car beside me was in the lane that continued. I was in the one that stopped. I needed to be ahead of her. My schedule was, no doubt, more important than hers. After all, am I not a man of the cloth? Am I not a courier of compassion? An ambassador of peace?
So I floored it.
Guess what? She did, too. When my lane ended, she was a fender ahead of me. I growled and slowed and let her go ahead. Over her shoulder she gave me a sweet little bye-bye wave. Grrrr.
I started to dim my headlights. Then I paused. The sinister part of me said, "Wait a minute." Am I not called to shed light on dark places? Illuminate the shadows?
So I put a little high beam in her rearview mirror.
She retaliated by slowing down. To a crawl. This woman was mean. She couldn't have cared less if the whole city of San Antonio was late; she wasn't going to go beyond fifteen miles per hour. And I wasn't going to take my lights out of her rearview mirror. Like two stubborn donkeys, she kept it slow and I kept it bright. After more unkind thoughts than I dare confess, the road widened and I started to pass. Wouldn't you know it? A red light left the two of us side by side at an intersection. What happened next contains both good news and bad. The good news is, she waved at me. The bad news is, her wave was not one you'd want to imitate.
Moments later, conviction surfaced. "Why did I do that?" I'm typically a calm guy, but for fifteen minutes I was a beast! Only two facts comforted me: One, I don't have a fish symbol on my car, and two, the apostle Paul had similar struggles. "I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate" (Rom. 7:15). Ever felt like saying those words?
If so, you're in good company. Paul isn't the only person in the Bible who wrestled the beast within. Hard to find a page in Scripture where the animal doesn't bare his teeth. King Saul chasing young David with a spear. Shechem raping Dinah. Dinah's brothers (the sons of Jacob) murdering Shechem and his friends. Lot selling out to Sodom and then getting out of Sodom. Herod murdering Bethlehem toddlers. Another Herod murdering Jesus' cousin. If the Bible is called the Good Book, it's not because its people are. Blood runs as freely through the stories as the ink through the quills that penned them. But the evil of the beast was never so raw as on the day Christ died.
The disciples were first fast asleep, then fast afoot.
Herod wanted a show.
Pilate wanted out.
And the soldiers? They wanted blood.
So they scourged Jesus.
Excerpted from El Escogio los Clavos / He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado Copyright © 2001 by Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|1.||Hiciste esto por mi?||1|
|2.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo compartire tu lado oscuro[angle quotation mark, right] La promesa de Dios en el escupo del soldado||11|
|3.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo los ame tanto que me hice como uno de ustedes[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en la corona de espinas||21|
|4.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo te perdone[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en los clavos||29|
|5.||[angle quotation mark, left]Te hablare en tu propio idioma[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios a traves del letrero||37|
|6.||[angle quotation mark, left]Te dejare que escojas[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios a traves de las dos cruces||49|
|7.||[angle quotation mark, left]No te abandonare[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en el camino||57|
|8.||[angle quotation mark, left]Te dare mi tunica[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios||69|
|9.||[angle quotation mark, left]Te invito a entrar a mi presencia[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios a traves de la carne lacerada||77|
|10.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo entiendo tu dolor[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en la esponja empapada en vinagre||87|
|11.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo te he redimido y te guardare[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en la sangre y el agua||97|
|12.||[angle quotation mark, left]Te amare para siempre[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en la cruz||107|
|13.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo puedo transformar tu tragedia en victoria[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en el sudario||115|
|14.||[angle quotation mark, left]Yo he alcanzado la victoria[angle quotation mark, right]: La promesa de Dios en la tumba vacia||125|
|15.||Que dejaras tu en la cruz?||133|
|Guia de estudio||153|