I attended a Men's Retreat with my church about six months after my young son had died. It was still a tough time, particularly since my (then) 17 year-old son had estranged himself from our household. One of the reasons I attended was that I was having a very hard time with my faith. The praise leader of our church had mentioned the conference/retreat and I’d not planned on attending. The morning of the retreat I woke up with what I can only call a Divine nudge—I knew I was going to attend.
As it turned out, the core message of the daylong conference was built around the forgiveness present in the story of the Prodigal Son. I was floored. At one point we did something I found very profound in the healing of my wounded soul:
After a drama skit concerning the Cross and the two thieves on either side of Jesus, they left the huge wooden cross in the middle of the stage, propped up at a 45 degree angle. Boxes of nails were then passed around the audience—big, V-shaped nails—along with note cards. Each man sat in meditation, contemplating something that either they had done that required forgiveness, or something that had been done to them that required them to offer forgiveness.
When each man was ready, in their own time, they approached the stage with their nail, climbed the steps, picked up a hammer, and nailed their pain to the cross.
The sound of all those hammers, driving home all those nails, was both powerful and humbling. The next day, I mentioned this all to my wife and she bought me a cross necklace, in the form of two nails (pictured). I've never removed it since.
On the way home, the lyrics to a song formed in my mind. Like the first lyrics I shared on this site, I am sharing these:
Which SideWords by Rob Guthrie(Verse)A thief to the left,A thief to the right,Both in darkness,One side reaching for the light.There’s a cross in the middle,A Savior dying,A Father crying: Son!Ask yourself:Which side are you on?(Verse)Fear to the left,Peace on the right,One side wanting,One side humble in His sight.There’s a cross in the middle,A Savior praying,Father, forgive them please.Ask yourself:Which side do you see?(Chorus)The gifts are yours,So little asked of you:Accept His mercy,No more I know not what I do.Which side are you on?Which side do you choose?You can blind your eyes,Or you can bow your head in awe.Thing is, you gotta knowOn which side do you fall?(Verse)A thief to the right,A thief to the left,One side blindedBy the wonder of His giftThere’s a cross in the middle,A savior whispers:In Paradise you will be.Ask yourself:Which side sets you free?(Chorus)The gifts are yours,So little asked of you:Accept His mercy,No more I know not what I do.Which side are you on?Which side do you choose?You can harden your heart,Or you can turn the other cheek.But, man, you gotta knowOn which side are you meek?(Repeat Chorus)(Ending)Yeah, there’s a cross in the middle,On it died a Son.No more pretending,Which side are you on?