Towards the weekend my mother says she wants me to go to a men’s meeting on Saturday at her church. Now I was watching the children that week, knee deep in the divorce, still trying to rectify somehow. So I didn’t want to leave the children with my mother, maybe irritating the wife somehow!
But by this time I am beginning to suspect that when my mother tells me to do something, “it may?”, just might be somewhat prophetic, and most certainly blessed!
So I reluctantly promise to go, but when I hear it’s an all day deal, I said “NO WAY!” With a great deal of prompting and a bit of insisting on my mothers part I reluctantly concede, promising only to stay one hour, and deciding if it was good, I would order the cd on their website, and then just listen on my way down to Phoenix. Actually, I was needing some new material for that daily trip.
I go to the men’s meeting at my moms church.
As I walk in, there is a man who greets me and I swear he looks like Christ himself. I notice you are supposed to pay, but I didn’t bring anything, so I said “do you want me to go get some money?”, he says; “no just come in”.
I say “ok, well I’m not staying long, but I will bring a check with me Sunday for the event”.
But the man (Robert) insists; “don’t worry about it, just come in and enjoy!”
So in my typical fashion, I sit in the back corner, so I can make a quick exit if it is too boring, as I probably expected.
What was amazing was that everything these guys said, was exactly pertinent to my situation, not to get to much into the men’s class “Faithful Men’s Ministries”, but at this time, basically they were teaching “how a man should act, live, behave, according to the writings of the Bible.” and if you did these things in your life as a man, you didn’t need to worry about divorce, relationships etc.
Needless to say I ended up staying all day!
As the morning progressed, there was a point when the preacher said; “If you have things in your life you wish to change; stand up?”
I popped out of the chair without even waiting for him to finish his sentence, but looked around and began to realize, as the preacher continued “if you have addiction to this, and that, and drinking, smoking, internet porno, and drugs…”, it was mainly teenage kids standing up, so I was thinking; “moron, you stood up too soon!”
He then asks everyone to come up to the altar. No way! So I sit back down.
Now I am really getting conviction, and I hear “Him” saying to me in my head; “Get out of that chair.”
”No!” I respond.
“Get Out Of The Chair!”
”No Way!”, I plead like a child.
“GET OUT OF THE CHAIR!” What could I do. Up I stand.
I have my head down now and I reluctantly say to God, maybe to myself; “Ok, if that Robert guy is up there praying for people, I will go up?” So I look up and Robert is not only up there, he is waiting for prayer before the altar himself. So I pop up and go.
I chose to stand about 8 feet to the right of Robert, kind of off to the side of everyone, away from the pastors and the rest of the action. Everybody’s head is down, and at that moment, I just for a brief moment, start thinking; just about now, it would be nice if that man (Robert, I didn’t know his name yet) would put his hand on my shoulder.
I didn’t just as soon think that, and I felt a hand on my shoulder, and it was him, Robert!
Of course I break down! I cried tears so big, that as they fall from my eyes, very strange, it was exactly like the end of “The Passion of Christ” when the big tear drop falls to the ground just at the moment Jesus dies. That was very strange; I could almost hear the tear hit the ground!
Well by the end of the afternoon, I had decided I was going to get the books, the course, what ever! The course was called the “Commissioned Men’s Ministry”, maximizing Manhood, it has a couple of names, conceived by Edwin Lewis Cole. Well anyway I bought all the books and workbooks, 18 total! Of course I had preferred them in audio possibly being able to listen on my daily drive down to Phoenix, but unfortunately they weren’t available.
I told Robert; “I guess I should get in some kind of group, they recommended that.” But he said; “there is no hurry”
I said; “I’m not trying to brag but you don’t know me, I am kind of a quick study.”
Normally it takes men on the average of one and a half, to three years to get through the course, Robert informed me and then added; “the fastest anyone had ever done it, as much as he had known, was 6 months”. I finished it in 6 weeks.
Every book was exactly what I needed at the exact moment for that particular day, for the exact situation I was in. It seemed so God ordained!
One time I jumped ahead, because I left my book I was working on at home, the other book didn’t make any sense and I quickly put it down.
Oops, got off track!
Back to the men’s meeting; that evening I am already so engulfed with the first book “Maximizing Manhood” I had nearly read half the book already by that afternoon.
I was listening to the speaker and trying to read at the same time.
Then they say something like come up and get a paper. Everyone goes up.
I come out of my reading coma and go up, get a paper they are giving out.
They then say; “Now go back and write down the things you need to work on”. I am kind of at a loss, not really working on any specific, so I write; my marriage, relationships, the other things I had already been working on, immorality and I also wrote pride?! Then they said; “fold it and hold it up.”
They then bring up a big wooden cross to the altar and throw some nails out on the floor, where by everyone lines up to nail the papers to the cross. Ok, so I get in line.
Everyone was nailing them to the base and the bottom was quickly filling up, as I get closer my eye goes towards the Left arm of the cross, and I look back to the base, and my eye goes back to the arm, a couple of times.
So I guess I am nailing it there.
I look down and all the nails are new except this one very rusty old one. That’s the one!, it almost call’s out to me.
I reach down and get my nail, go over to the arm of the cross, right about where His wrist would have been nailed, the left arm. There was a man holding the cross from behind and as I put my paper up to the wood, and give it a tap, softly at first, then a second hit with a bit more force, then the third hit was out and out hard!
Immediately I am transported in a flash to another time, another place, and in a blink I am simultaneously pounding the nail into Christ’s wrist! I am wearing Roman garb, I can see some kind of wrist protectors, some things hanging down off of my shoulders like leather straps of a chain-mail and I am wearing some kind a leather tunic.
This image is so real and vivid, all these images happening in a fraction of a moment, like a lightning bolt flashing then the image being implanted in the eyes for a moment.
I am looking at my own hand holding the large nail and smacking it, but at the very moment I am also staring right into the face of our Savior!
He is looking at me, and I will never forget this image as long as I live, He is staring back at me, eyes longing for a bit of compassion, and at the same time giving compassion, love, sympathy as if it is I who suffering! His face is turned towards me, and while I can see his arm stretched before me, I can also even see a bit of his torso laying there on the cross contracted in pain and unimaginable misery.
All I can do is stare right into the eyes, as He looks back at me! His hair is mangled and wet from blood and sweat, partially covering his face and Right eye, which was almost swollen shut, hair matted and so intertwined with the thorns on his head, you can not even distinguish what is His hair, and thorns, they are both dark brown from the wetness.
His one eye, the Right one is mostly closed by swelling or the beating He obviously endured, His mouth contorted with the moan He had just let out as I hit the nail, but it is not a angry look, or one that a person feels they need to take pity on, but one of resolve to endure the task at hand, even though the pain is obviously unbearable, kind of like what you might see when a Olympic weight lifter lets out a groan after lifting an incredible weight, but infinitely more painful.
I also feel the hot spray of His blood on the Right side of my face, at that very moment I hit the nail as well, and to this day I can feel that heat on my face when I think about it, plus my Right ear even gets hot sometimes. I will tell you about that later.
At the moment all this is taking place, like in a flash of lightning moment in time, time seems to be standing still, or an entire chapter of my life being written in just an instant, I am also feeling four distinct and separate feelings simultaneously; first Anger, then Hatred, then Pity, and then absolute and utter Sorrow for what I had done!!!
I have watched “The Passion of Christ” many times, and up until this point I would sit there and curse those men as they beat our Lord, as if I was a spectator, one of His followers watching from the crowd. Now in this moment, I became those men I cursed!
“Who’s the soldier now?”
By Peter Colla
“Lord help every day to remember, that it is me that not only did you die for, buying for me with your sacrifice forgiveness of sin, so I could be washed clean and present myself a pure and perfect creation to the Father on the Day of Judgement, but also I who nailed you to the cross, with those very sins. Forgive me.”