Journal Week 7: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

I'm a very intellectual, cerebral person. But I'm also very sentimental and romantic.

I grew up in a faith tradition that sang acapella, four-part harmony out of hymnbooks. We also took the Lord's Supper every Sunday. And it was a tradition in our churches to sing mournful hymns before we'd come to the table.

Those mournful hymns always wrecked me. As a child, and even as a teenager, those hymns would make me weep. And I think it's those tears, despite all my doubts and intellectual wanderings over the years, that have kept me tethered to the faith.

On Ash Wednesday this week I heard the old hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts:
When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain, I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose, so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
Gracious, that's so beautiful. These hymns are etched on my soul. They are my spiritual love language.

On Ash Wednesday, when I heard the hymn, I started singing it to myself on a drive back home, eventually--of course--through tears. Those mournful hymns are still wrecking me.

At the end of the day, this is one of the main reasons I'm a Christian.

The tears. This is the story that I love so much, the beauty that keeps breaking my heart.

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