You might be thinking, what an unusual title for a post; and you would be absolutely correct.
Let us see if I can make sense of this enigma in the form of this title.
There was a lady who was quite dismayed that her husband had purchased a new puppy for their baby. She was painfully aware that it was her that would feed this “urinating in the house,” “barking at night,” “whining for attention,” “flea carrying mongrel.”
She would be the one picking up the poop in and outside. She would be the one preparing its meals. She would be the one that would watch this 4 legged creature lick the face of her baby – she did not like having a dog. However, something would change this opinion when her baby was 3 years old.
You see although the baby was still a baby at 3 years old, the dog had grown into adulthood at 3 years; and as all dogs are faithful true and better than humans when it comes to loyalty and honor, this dog loved the little boy – with undying affection. And while this baby was very beautiful, some saying he would grow up to be a model, Rex the dog was an ugly mix breed mutt.
There wasn’t a day that went by that the woman did not display her disgust for Rex. One day while the little boy was playing in the backyard, the mother heard the dog bark in an unusual manner. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a figure of a man in the backyard approaching the baby, with the dog in between the two.
As she turned to see what was going on, to her horror she could see that the individual was dressed in all black, with a mask on, and obviously attempting to abduct the baby. And there was Rex, barking in a very aggressive manner, biting at the man and holding him off, until the perpetrator pulled out a knife and cut Rex repeatedly; but Rex did not retreat, he stood his ground and protected the little boy from the abductors.
While running to the backyard the women dialed 911 and yelled help, dropping the phone as she ran, while yelling and screaming at the perpetrator, who then ran off. When the woman approached Rex she thought he was dead though he didn’t stop lunging at the man until the man ran off, then Rex fell over, as though dead.
The woman grabbed her baby and Rex, and without thought drove to the animal hospital, calling the police on her way to give them the details of the situation.
Some dogs are beautiful in their appearance, long flowing hair, beautiful colors, profound in the stature of their breed, even exquisite physique; however Rex was none of these – he was an ugly mix breed mutt, who loved to roll around in mud, play in the water, and get into the trash.
These are just a few of the reasons why the woman had such great disdain for this dog living in her immaculate house, which she worked very hard to keep that way in spite of this four-legged creature.
However, after the situation, their relationship totally changed.
Now Rex was a member of the house, treated with privileges even beyond his masters.
The woman fed Rex the best dog food, bought him treats and toys; but more importantly displayed love and affection for Rex that he had never known before from this woman.
This ugly mutt was now treated like a Prince due to the quality and honor that he displayed in loving this woman’s child – Rex now had meaning and importance in the eyes of the woman who she could never repay, though she would spend the next 10 years attempting to do so until the day Rex died, which broke her heart.
Now what does this have to do with the subject at hand, how something so ugly and hated that could become something so cherished and loved – well let me use yet one last analogy to paint the picture, that of burnt hands.
There was a beautiful teenage girl who was dearly loved by her family and fostered in every pursuit that she would endeavor. She was on the cheerleading squad, the debate club, the high school newspaper, and on the student council.
She was outgoing and popular and excelled at anything she attempted. Much of this had to do with the adulation, love, acceptance, and encouragement of her mother.
However, in spite of all that her mother had done in promoting her physical and emotional well-being; it was noticeable that the girl was ashamed of her mother; attempting to avoid her mother ever been seen in public with her. Yet, this never detracted the mother from supporting her daughter in every manner she could.
The girl was not a bad girl, yet due to her popularity and social stature she had become somewhat vain, and the problem with her mother was not her mother per se; but the fact that she had terribly scarred hands and arms which embarrassed the daughter when seen in public.
Finally, a situation arose in which the daughter blatantly told the mother she didn’t want her to be seen in public because of her scars, and the embarrassment it brought to the daughter.
A few days later, the mother walked into the daughter’s room late one night and while saying good night, her daughter asked how did her hands and arms get so horribly disfigured. The mother hesitated, then sit down on the bed and said, “I’ve not wanted to share this story with you until you are old enough to understand, maybe now is the right time.
“When you were a few months old we lived in an old house on Jefferson Street, there was a terrible fire, and your nursery was on the second floor. I had put you down for your nap and went downstairs to do the laundry. After some time I smelled what smelled like burnt rubber, and started to investigate. As I started up the stairs I could smell smoke and see it coming out of the cracks of the door of your room.”
“As I ran to your room and opened the door, in horror I could see that the room was filled with smoke, and I saw flames in the corner were your crib was located. I ran over to see my greatest fear; the outer frame of your crib was engulfed in flames. As I went to reach for you in the crib, the railing, which was on fire was too high to reach you, so I had to reach into the flames to lower the railing, I then reached inside and grabbed you while the flames engulfed my arms and upper body.”
“You were not burned in any way, though you did have smoke inhalation.”
“I spent months in the hospital, and spent years undergoing reconstructive surgery on my hands, arms, chest, and shoulders while you are still quite young.”
As the mother looked up from having her eyes fixed on the floor during the story, she could see the tears flowing from her daughter’s cheeks.
The daughter grabbed her mother’s burnt hands so tenderly started kissing them.
This changed the girl’s attitude and perspective as she understood that this terrible disfigurement was the ultimate display of her mother’s undying love.
So what does this story have to do with the final issue at hand, that of a cross?
It displays how something that we esteem as so ugly can become so precious.
Now you understand why I love the cross of Jesus Christ.
The cross is a cruel instrument of death and shame, yet it was by my Lord’s willingness to die on the cross that He displayed His love for me in such an overwhelming manner.
Sometimes the value of something is not readily apparent.
Sometimes things aren’t always as they seem.
Sometimes an ugly old dog that appears to have no value can protect the thing that we love the most, making it a greater value than could ever be comprehended.
And sometimes terrible scars are a visible reminder of sacrificial love.
However, all of these are pale in comparison to the apparent barbarism of a Roman cross, a cross that exhibits what our Lord went through when He was nailed to it for our sins – a thing of pain, ridicule , and shame becomes a beautiful symbol of love.
“Whereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)