On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suff’ring and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it someday for a crown.
(Words/Music by George Bennard, 1873-1960)
This song is another memory I will cherish about Lyle (see previous posts to get caught up). Lyle was a craftsman and loved working with wood. He made many bird houses, benches, wooden tractors and small wooden crosses. Lyle would deliver those crosses to the nursing home and the hospital. One day Lyle came into my office with a box filled with these 5″ by 3 1/2″ crosses and said he would like to leave these in the narthex for people. I said that would be great. I made an announcement in worship and by the time I left to go home that Sunday morning all the crosses were gone. Lyle made more for Belmont and they were quickly snatched up as well.
During the final days of Lyle’s life, he lay in his hospital bed clinging to one of his “old rugged crosses” and I remember thinking what a proclamation of faith. He was not only clinging to a piece of wood but he was clinging to what that cross represented to him (to us). Lyle lay in his bed clinging to the hope of the resurrection and the promises that Jesus gave us through the cross. Lyle lay in his bed undaunted by what was happening to him and looked forward to what Jesus had prepared for him. His hope did not waver for the cross stood as a reminder to him of the life Jesus came to bring for us all.
What a great image and reminder for all of us…”cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown“.
Praise be to God, always and forever.