Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's Your Cross?

There comes a time for each of us when we must endure difficult circumstances, tolerate people who challenge us, or make peace with trouble and change.  In those moments we find ourselves with a cross to bear that we would not wish on anyone, and we are faced with a choice to either embrace that cross joyfully or endure it regretfully. 

As I prayed recently about the season of change I have experienced the past few months, I found myself asking God why He would strip away the things I enjoy so much and give me a cross to bear.  I asked Him to show me the lessons He wants me to learn as a result of everything that has happened and to help me walk through my challenges with more grace and joy. 

Looking to the Bible for His words of encouragement and the grace to make the best of everything He has allowed to transpire, I immediately came across the following verses about "taking up" our cross daily:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it (Luke 9:23-24).
My heart's desire is to be a homemaker, administrative consultant, and freelance writer. Yet God has seen fit to call me out of those roles that have afforded me the flexibility to meet my family's needs, manage our busy household, and spend time with those I love.  He has placed me in a full-time job that is demanding and leaves very little time to do the things I love most.  All my efforts to save the life I love have failed, but by the grace of God I am learning to embrace this new season and make the most of it.  In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus says:
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I want to be worthy of Jesus, don't you?

The NIV Study Bible footnotes for Luke 9:23 further emphasize the significance Christ placed on taking up our cross and following him.
"Take up his cross daily" -- To follow Jesus requires self-denial, complete dedication, and willing obedience.  Luke emphasizes continued action, and "daily" is not mentioned explicitly in the parallel accounts (Mt. 16:24-26; Mk. 8:34).  Disciples from Galilee knew what the cross meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region.  9:24 "whoever loses his life for me."  A saying of Jesus found in all four Gospels more than once (14:26-27; 17:33; Mt. 10:38-39; 16:24-25; Mk. 8:34-35; Jn. 12:25).  No other saying of Jesus is given such emphasis.
As I thought about these verses and the corresponding footnotes, I was reminded that Jesus had to willfully choose to obey His Father and embrace the cross that God had chosen for His only Son to bear.  Without that cross there would have been no atoning sacrifice for our sins or salvation leading to eternal life for those who believe in His Name.

What is your cross?  What is that fiery trial that is stealing your joy today?  Could it be that God has required a sacrifice of you in order that a lost and needy soul may find the Christ of Calvary and receive His free gift of salvation?  Where would any of us be had not Christ been obedient in following His Father by taking up His cross?   Will you take up your cross knowing that because of your obedience, someone might spend eternity in heaven?

Lord, give us the grace we need to bear the cross you have lovingly laid on our shoulders.  Open our eyes to see the harvest, our hearts to know your purpose, and our lips to praise you no matter how difficult our cross may be to bear.  Keep us mindful that you are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us, bearing the weight of our cross.  If we are faithful, one day we will stand in Your Presence and hear your voice proclaim, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord."

Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.


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