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Centuries ago on the South Coast of China, high up on a hill overlooking the harbor of Macao, Portuguese settlers built an enormous cathedral.

They believed it would weather time, and they placed upon the front wall of this cathedral a massive bronze cross that stood high into the sky.

Not too many years later, a typhoon came and nature’s finger work swept away man’s handiwork. That entire cathedral was pushed down the hill and into the ocean as debris, except the front wall and that bronze cross that stood high.

Centuries later, there was a shipwreck out a little beyond that harbor. Some dies but a few lived. One of the men that was hanging onto wreckage from the ship, moving up and down in the crest of the ocean as the swells were moving, was disoriented, frightened. He didn’t know where land was. As he would come up on the swell, he’d spot that cross, tiny from that distance. His name was Sir John Bowring.

When he made it to land and lived to tell the story, he wrote this hymn:

In the cross of Christ I glory,

Towering o’er the wrecks of time;

All the light of sacred story

Gathers round its head sublime.

The last stanza says:

When the woes of life o’ertake me,

Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,

Never shall the cross forsake me:

Lo! It glows with peace and joy.

John Bowring is telling us that we have a cross, we have an altar. And when all of life seems to crush in on top of us, we need to go back to the Cross and remember the empty tomb. Call to mind the fact that a Man is neither on the cross nor in the tomb, but He lives. He stands ready and able to give us victory through whatever we are going through at the time.

Come by grace to the Cross and say, “That is my sufficiency. That is my only hope.”

--Kenneth Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories.

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