For more than 10 years, I have enjoyed making small wooden crosses and giving them away to random people. We all run into people from time to time that seem distressed, troubled or overwhelmed. I try to find a way to give them a cross. As I offer the crosses, I usually say, “The cross reminds me that God is good.”
I seek opportunities to give them away as often as possible. I hand them to anybody I run into during the course of the day. It might be my waiter at the restaurant or the receptionist at the doctor’s office. I carry five or six of them in my pocket, just looking for a chance to give them out. When those are given away, I replenish from a supply I keep in my car. I would estimate that I’ve given away several thousand crosses to people.
It’s a simple act, and I don’t ever have any expectation for a particular result. As a retired chaplain, I just give the cross and let the recipient decide its value to them. But the responses I receive have been incredible and so heartwarming. I have seen people break down and cry upon receiving one. I’ve heard countless people say, “this is just what I needed today.” These responses give me a sense of joy and motivate me to expand my efforts.
I use a wide variety of wood and I get the wood from all over. I have picked up limbs and scraps that people put out on the street to be collected. I have used pieces of broken furniture.
Giving the crosses to people who may be going through a rough time seems to bring some momentary joy to these folks. But making the crosses has also brought me closer to the Lord and made me realize some important things about Jesus. Allow me to explain.
Sometimes, the wood that I use has a beautiful intricate pattern in the grain, which reminds me of the many facets of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Some wood is very heavy, and that makes me reflect on how much the cross must have weighed that Jesus carried.
A powerful tornado devastated a neighborhood in a nearby town and our church worked to clean up the debris. I picked up boards from the destroyed houses to make rustic crosses. Those crosses underscored how beauty can eventually come from tragedy.
Sometimes I mix sizes and types of wood. Some may be rough on one side and smooth on the other. This symbolized two ways of envisioning Jesus’ cross. On one hand, it was brutal and ugly. On the other hand, the results of His sacrifice brought salvation, hope, love and eternal life.
In the process of making crosses, some get broken. I set those aside in a box and occasionally, I get that box out and make crosses from the pieces. Often the rebuilt ones are more attractive than the originals. A powerful truth jumps out at me. A lot of brokenness is seen in the lives of people. Those crosses symbolize Jesus’ power to change people which is such a beautiful thing.
I am humbled to realize that my simple act can have significant, maybe even profound, effects. I never expected to do this but I am gratified that God has used me in this process. I am greatly blessed and hope to continue this for a long time.