I walk down along this dusty trail,
Joints weak and body frail,
To the place it’s said that death abides,
Where the spirit of fear taunts and hides.
Without a glance I pass the mount,
For the sorrows there I cannot count.
Uneasy, afraid, I join the crowd.
Darkness reigns as a hanging shroud.
One among many, I am the lost.
None among us affords the cost
Except the creature in my arm,
Destined alone to bear my harm.
Large brown eyes gaze back into mine
With sparkle, glimmer, and shine.
Life’s warmth bleeds through its coat.
With sudden doubt my heart is smote:
To think the wretch that I am
Could find grace in this little lamb.
Setting it down, raising the knife,
Considering the cost of an innocent life,
I raise it up, higher still.
Could this animal, this lamb I kill?
Suddenly—this scene—it is gone,
As darkness flees from the rising dawn.
Too late to stop the downward trend,
The blow my arm continues to send.
I bring it down with all my might,
And my heart is torn at the sight:
My hand is covered, covered in blood.
It drips from my palm and into the mud.
Gone is the knife that sought bloodshed;
In my hand is a hammer instead.
I realize, with face turned pale,
The blow I had struck—was into a nail!
Pride’s hammer, sin’s spike, love’s wrist.
My eyes are filled with sorrow’s mist,
As I think of what it is I have done—
“O God, have I murdered Your only Son?”
I avert my eyes, feeling the sting of shame,
Knowing I alone must bear the blame.
Yet I cannot bear it and turn away
With no defense, with nothing to say.
Then from beyond I hear my name.
From Him, from behind me it came.
I hear it again; the call is now clear.
Shall I answer?—I am frozen in fear!
I do not know!—Yet again He calls.
Diminishing this heart’s fortified walls.
From the Voice that does not condemn
I hear, “My Father, forgive him.”
I am broken by Him I betrayed;
The price of my sins His mercy has paid.
Taking my shame, taking my guilt,
Transforming the legacy of what had been built.
Finally, I turn and remove my guise;
I push back the fear and look into His eyes.
There, Life hangs dying on a tree,
So that I, this wretch, could finally be free!
I want to run, but I hold my position.
I must plead my case, state my petition.
Then He turns to me, covered in red,
The price of the perfect life He had led.
I feel His gaze on me with love in His eyes,
Knowing between Him and I there are no lies.
He says to me, “It is finished.
Why has your light so quickly diminished?”
I fall to my knees with heavy shame
And reply, “My fear and flesh overcame.”
Immediately—His hand lifts my chin.
I see—yes!—only a scar in the skin!
He stands there before me in light;
I do not believe, though my eyes see the sight!
He asks, “My child, why do you doubt?
The life you have, my blood brought about.”
“Lord, my spirit is willing, but my flesh weak.
I could not find the treasure I seek.
I was afraid; my guilt was so great.
My life was consumed with malice and hate.
But at the time, I hoped, it seemed,
That I somehow could still be redeemed
Perhaps through the blood of that little lamb.”
His large brown eyes reply, “I AM.”
—Mark H. Knoles, Thunderbird high school years