Take Up Your Cross and Walk with Jesus
38 Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39 (NJB)
“989 Come, now! After saying so often, “The cross, Lord, the cross,” it is obvious you wanted a cross to your own taste.” (1)
It is pretty obvious that the culture in America doesn’t handle suffering and death all that well. Heck, we don’t even handle getting old that well, as our bodies begin to groan and ache. We find ways to hide the effects of suffering and the problems we endure, and if we can’t, we try to ignore it, shove it in a corner. Or we try and use it to get some kind of attention, as if we can play the martyr, or even top someone else’s martyrdom.
We don’t even like to see others suffer, and far too often, we leave them alone in it. Abandoning them because if we have to face their pains, their burdens, we might have to deal with our own as well. So getting down in the dirt, embracing the pain, being for them, no, that’s not where God wants us. Even pastors do it, as that open congregation must have less suffering and sacrifice than the one we are at. Congregations as well – as they look for another pastor, thinking that it’s his fault that the church isn’t what we think it should be. Indeed, how much time do we spend looking with envy at where the grass is greener? How often do we disrespect God by coveting the lives, the things, the churches that others have?
Like St Josemaria says…. we want a cross we like, burdens that we don’t lose sleep over, the perfect cross that doesn’t hurt, that doesn’t cause our bodies to scream out in pain, or cause our soul agony. One made by Sealy Posturpedic, with massage units.
No pain and maybe we gain.
Yesterday, I learned for a moment to greet a cross with a sense of joy. After having been away to bear a cross I whined and complained about, (and still am! My wise wife warns people for my sake not to bring up the pain!) I was able to be with my church family. A family that has and is bearing much pain, hardship, illness, and brokenness. I am sure there are others who deal with more, but the people I care for…together in Christ we’ve endured. We even know why, as we regularly greet each other with the phrase, “the Lord IS with you”. We’ve come to rely it so much.
As we waited for service – people came up to me – to add prayers. Some with tears, some barely able to say the words. Others added them afterward, in scratched out writing on paper crumbled and slightly damp. Two more were added from requests from friends via electronic media. Thirteen prayers total – added to a nearly full back and front half page. We pray a lot around here… because we have the need, and that’ has grown over the years.
As we looked at the Lord’s prayer, and why our prayers are answered, I felt more and more at home. As we struggled in prayer, as we worshipped the God who calls us to talk to Him, to lay our burdens upon Him, more and more peace flooded into our brokenness, bringing the healing and trust in God that we don’t have on our own. Our communion time, our passing the peace, were all incredibly….good? beneficial? moments of great awe?
As I look back on it. all I know is this, the pain and burdens we gave to God,… we trusted He would deal with in all wisdom and love. The things we celebrated, the joy and peace we know are evidence of His glorious presence.
We took up our cross – and we realized, consciously, subconsciously, that we were in His presence, we were with Him…..and the crosses were dealt with, and we relaxed with our God, We rested with Him. We dwelt in the presence of God, but we knew it. Taking up our cross is not just a matter of not hiding from the pain, it is a matter of embracing Jesus.
Now to remember that again today… as new crosses are embraced, new things endured, and can even become a joyous occaison, as we walk with the Lord who took the cross meant for us.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 2298-2299). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on July 29, 2013, in Devotions and tagged "take up your cross", Concordia Lutheran Church Cerritos, Cross, Jesus, Lord's Prayer, prayer, spirituality, St. Josemaria Escriva, suffering. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.