Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Impressed series. Be sure to follow the rest of the series HERE.
In the summer of 2009, I was walking through the bookstore at Mount Hermon Conference Center, skimming the shelves to look for a new read. I saw the book, Comforts from the Cross, and didn’t recognize the author, yet something urged me to pick it up anyway (and by “something” I mean the Holy Spirit), and glance through the pages. My eyes came to a halt when I read a portion of a prayer she had used to conclude a chapter: “Please open my eyes and grant me grace to see you, your love, the security of my place in you, and the inevitability of my complete transformation, and then give me grace to draw near to you for strength to war against our enemies.”
I had never heard anyone talk to God like she had in that paragraph, like she was talking to someone she was not fearful of, not someone she was trying to impress, but someone she trusted. I knew I wanted to, no needed to read this and find out how she was able to talk to God like that. Little did I know that this would soon become the book that would have the biggest impression on my life thus far.
“Please open my eyes and grant me grace to see you, your love, the security of my place in you, and the inevitability of my complete transformation, and then give me grace to draw near to you for strength to war against our enemies.”
I had just graduated college and was exploring adulthood away from my home church for the first time. I had grown up a struggling legalist and had recently discovered that I had no idea how to feel God’s affectionate, warm, undying love for me without paying for it through my own self-condemnation and shame. I unknowingly longed to know that part of my Father but felt like I needed to hold onto my sin and guilt as a punishment. The word “comfort” was never one I would have paired with “cross.”I didn’t see the crucifixion was an event that would not only give me salvation and forgiveness, but also countless, daily comforts straight from God my Father.
The book is split into 31 chapters that are extremely short in length, but so rich in content. I spent days on each chapter, reading and rereading, drinking in the words I didn’t know I needed! Growing up I was faithfully taught truths about the cross, Christ’s death, and my sinful state, but I never made the connection of what the cross means for me on a practical, every day level. Elyse Fitzpatrick beautifully and bluntly makes the cross of Jesus something that makes me feel not only my eternal salvation, but the nearness of a Holy God that I can now call Father. I still use the truths I learned in this book to counsel people today.
That summer at Mount Hermon God felt like a stranger to me, and to be honest, he still does a lot of the time. My heart sees His love and runs. It is tired from hard seasons and trying to hold it together, yet is fearful of this unfathomable love God is offering. In one of the closing chapters Elyse writes, “Only the gospel will make you comfortable with your bridegroom. Only the gospel will warm your affections so that you will long for an opportunity to be near him, to rest your head on his breast, to feel the warmth of his nearness, to let him put his arm around your dropping shoulders and say, ‘I’m here. You’re mine. Soon these interposing years will end, and your faith will be sight. Stay here by me for a while and let me give you my strength. See how I love you.’”
I read those words almost five years ago and they still bring tears to my eyes today. These are things that my soul, our souls, need to be reminded of. Our God is for us, He is with us in our pain, and even loves us in our sin. Through this book I’ve began to allow these truths to draw me closer to him, not further away.
If your soul is in need of small yet powerful doses of personal comfort from your heavenly Father who seems so far away, then I cannot encourage you enough to pick up this book.
Interested in reading Comforts from the Cross? Check it out HERE!
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