Saturday, August 9, 2008

Vintage Flair pt. 2

Ashli entered the stage of the darkened room. We waited on the third row for her performance. It was the talent competition. She would be performing at the judges nod.

The judge looked her way and she introduced her song. "The Old Rugged Cross" was her selection. 

Ashli chose to do this song a cappella. The words began to resonate through the room. I looked around and many were in tears. Even the men in the audience had tears streaming down their faces by the end of that song. It was beautiful. Her pitch was perfect. Her grace and poise was distinct. 

The most defining element of her performance was the anointing that settled upon the song, upon Ashli, and upon the audience. The words were penetrating hearts and the message was being received. 

Ashli was not performing, she was ministering. For the most part the crowd was worldly. Her hearers were not typically from the church circle. She was delivering the gospel to them in such a beautiful way. The best of preachers would have envied the power of it. 

Our family did not attend a traditional church at that time. Hymns were rarely sung at our services. I do not know how she became aware of this hymn that was so fitting for such a contest. 

Here are the words that she sang that day:

The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard 1873-1958

1.On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, 
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, 
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it someday for a crown.

2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear lamb of God left His glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.

3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.

4. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
it's shame and reproach gladly bear;
then He'll call me someday to my home far away,
where His glory forever I 'll share.

By the last refrain, the judges had stopped their writing and their eyes were fixed on her face. 
A subtle hush settled upon the whole audience as these final words penetrated the toughest facade:

"So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it someday for a crown."

The song was over, but everyone remained silent. The gospel was shared. Her mission was complete. Tears were completely blinding my eyes.

I didn't understand until that moment what the purpose of Ashli's participation in this type of contest was. She kept telling me that she felt the Lord had prompted her to sign up for it. She had never really shown interest in such an endeavor before. I was mystified and a bit miffed by it all in the beginning. 

My second lesson from her obedience was that the Lord wants us to enter into places that we may not want to go and present a message that they might not want to hear. We can present it in such a way that it can be received. 

There were some in that audience that were stirred by the ministry of that song, but they were not changed. Perhaps someone sitting among us had a heart change because of Ashli's obedience.

I can tell you that one person was forever changed. Me. My daughter demonstrated something to me that day that I will never forget. She was in a contest for an earthly crown, but was actually seeking a higher crown. She didn't expect to win the title of Miss Kansas Teen that day.

She placed second in the talent competition. She did not win the pageant. Her reward is not here and now. It will come at a later time when she hears her Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest."

Ashli demonstrated such boldness to me that weekend. She had a boldness to stand alone with her wardrobe selections. Her confidence in the gospel and her willingness to share it in such a high pressured arena was astounding! I wish you could have been there. Words fail to describe it. I know that you would join me in saying it was a moment in time that will remain in my heart forever.

Blessings, dear friends,



Corrie said...

O how special I feel when I have heard you, wonderful you, tell me this story in person, before you share it here! I love it! By the way I guess I will settle for being branch 9, since someone took my spot at #8. But that is it-no more compromising on this point! You will have so many branches as God continues to use you to speak for Him in incredible ways! It is I who will say..."I knew her when..."

Joyful said...

Oh Cheri, this is beautiful. Thank you for reminding me today of the power of the cross. Reading Ashli's story reminds me of another precious hymn. Ashli lived the lyrics of "Trust and Obey".

Clinging to Him,

Laura said...

Hi, Cheri!
what a beautiful picture you painted with your words! I could see your Ashli just as clearly as if she stood in front of me. What an amazing testimony.

swallowingamoose said...

I'm choking... That was awesome! God does ask things of us at times that seem like maybe we heard him wrong or something. Isn't it awesome how He can get glory out of those areas too. Sometimes more than all the easy and okay ones! I'm never tired of hearing how He is moving mountains and making paths for people. Awesome! Go Ashli!

Love, Heather

Tugs said...

What an incredible story, thank you for sharing. It's hard to remember sometimes that God told us that "His ways are not our ways, not are His thoughts like ours". Oh' how we long to be there, and understand all His movings. Only He see's the tomorrows of our lives, and He knew in advance how this song sung from your daughter would impact your faith and countless others. You gotta love it when God uses our own children to teach us something!
Be blessed!

Cheri Bunch said...

Thanks to each of you for your wonderful comments. The remembrance of this true story has rolled over and over in my thoughts this week. The lessons I learned from Ashli continue to empower me.
You are all so special to me! Thanks so much for everything! Rich blessings to you!!!!
Love ya,