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December 17, 2012 / Pastor George Fike

On the 5th day of Christmas… Calvary


dark calvaryI will never forget the Keane family in Frankfort, Illinois.  They remain some of my favorite people to this day, and lifelong friends.

Shelley first stepped through the doors of Hickory Creek Community Church one Sunday in 2002.  She had the most inquisitive look on her face the moment I first saw her that day.  She looked around the small foyer with great curiosity and surprise.  As I was the lead worshipper as well as teaching pastor, I could see her face light up throughout the entire service. After the service ended, she promised she’d be back.

Sure enough, she dropped by my office a few days later. She said, “I know you’re wondering about me, so here goes… I’ve been away from the church for awhile, and something just told me I needed to come to your church and see if it was where I needed to be.  When I first walked in, I looked at the bulletin board and saw someone with the same last name was working in the nursery.  That was one sign.  Then your wife came up and said ‘hello’. I told her I was wondering if God wanted me here and she said, ‘He does.  Come have a seat.’ Well, that was 2.  And then, a man came to the front and read something from the Bible… (it was Psalm 40)… and I just thought, ‘WOW! That’s my favorite U2 song!’ And then Pastor George, the whole time you were teaching I just thought there was a glow all around you.  I even blinked a few times to see if I was tripping.  I’ve been looking for God to be back in my life, and I think I’ve found my home.”

Shelley was a joy to have around, always cheerful, always helpful.  She and her young son, Jack, attended every time the doors were open.  Her daughter, Carly, began attending as well.  I had met her husband a few times, visiting in their home and we had great conversations, but it took Tim awhile to attend a service.  Tim was pretty ticked-off at God.  Tim had grown up in West Virginia and had been brought up in a God-honoring home.  As a young man he had been a great help to his pastor while he was in basic training.  But during the Vietnam conflict, Tim went overseas in special forces.  He told me he had seen and even done some horrible things.  He was not a large man, but when he told me he had no doubt he could kill me with his bare hands I decided to do whatever I needed to not to test out his theory.  One evening I asked him to tell me why he was so angry with God.  I thought perhaps it was due to the horrors he had experienced in war.  But his answer surprised me.

“If God is so good, why would He allow His only Son to die such an atrocious death?  What kind of monster is He that He would abuse His son that way?!”

As I watched his eyes blaze in anger, I saw why the southeast Asians named him “GreenFire.”  His Irish temper was rigorously kindled over what he saw as the gravest injustice in history.

“I love Jesus.  He did nothing but good.  Everything he taught was true.  But I will never forgive God His Father!  Why did He let Jesus die?”

I marveled at his acumen.  How many of us who had grown up accepting the history of the cross really ever stopped to picture it in its horror?  Was it no more than a point of dry doctrine to us?  Would I have allowed one of my two sons to die such an agonizing death for people I didn’t know – people who well may have hated me?  I don’t think I could make that hard choice.  There really could be only one answer.

“Tim,” I said.  “Jesus loved you so much, He made the decision to be punished for your offenses.  But you’re right: it was certainly God’s call.  But have you ever thought of it this way: is it really that God hated His own Son… or that He loved you so much that He allowed Jesus to be your substitute?”

Tim’s brow softened, but furrowed again deep in thought.  We concluded our conversation, and I left for home.  A few Sundays later, Tim, a prolific poet, came to me with a new manuscript he had just completed.  It was entitled Calvary.  My gift for you this 5th day of Christmas, is the song I wrote to his words.

The 5th day is about the Law that God gave through Moses.  The Law that indeed became our death sentence.  But the death it sentenced us to was paid by our loving Lord Jesus.  Heres how Paul describes it in the book of Colossians, chapter 2, verses 13 through 15:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

As horrible as the cross was, thank God it saved our skins!  Never again will it have to be endured.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Remember, you can find all 12 songs HERE.

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2 Comments

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  1. Shelley Keane / Dec 17 2012 9:44 PM

    George, Tim and I read this post together. Tim says, “George you gave me more than I could ever have given you. You helped me forgive God my Father. I miss you and your preaching.” Hickory Creek has never been the same without you, George. You changed our lives. I too miss your preaching so much. The love and patience your family has showed me in my discipling has put me on a straight path that always hungers to know Jesus deeper. We love you Fike family and will always treasure your friendship. I thank God we are family in Christ! Thank you for the warm thoughts.

    • Pastor George Fike / Dec 17 2012 10:02 PM

      Thanks, guys! We miss you all very much as well. This is such a special song. I still don’t think I do it justice. The poem really wrote the song, Tim!

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