Devotional Thought of the Day:
38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:38-39 (TEV)
21 So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the LORD to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, 23 Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. 27 This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. 28 Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. 29 “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” 30 “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. 31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. 32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” 34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” Numbers 22:21-34 (NLT)
521 I wrote to you: Though I can understand that it’s not an uncommon way of talking, I’m not happy when I hear people describe the difficulties born of pride as “crosses”. These burdens are not the Cross, the true Cross, because they are not Christ’s Cross. So struggle against those invented obstacles, which have nothing to do with the seal Christ has set on you. Get rid of all the disguises of self!
As I read the words in blue from above at the end of my devotions this morning, I thought of the story of Balaam.
Partly it is because I have been trying to help a lot of people reconcile the relationships that they have shattered. They often consider dealing with each other the cross they have to bear, and they count it a noble thing to do so. They might not call them n ass directly, or publicly, but there is that kind of thought that is given. They will bear up with the frustration, the pain, and will humble themselves to the point where they cannot any longer, and the need for reconciliation becomes ….more visible.
I will confess that I am writing this as much to me, as I am to anyone else. We struggle against them, we proclaim that we will gladly becomes martyrs, we convince ourselves that we will tolerate them, and that is our martyrdom, that is the persecution we will endure, and offer it up to the Lord, as we bury the anger and resentment, and find ways to increase the distance between us.
And we are full of it!
Not that! We are full of pride. (well and the pride fills us with that as well)
They aren’t the cross we have to bear. TO say that is to bear a different kind of cross that the cross of Jesus Christ.
His Cross is one where reconciliation happens, the Cross where mercy and grace is found and celebrated, the Cross where sin is put to death, and we are raised, freed from it and all unrighteousness. That’s the cross we have to bear – to do things to bring about healing, forgiveness, to see God’s grace and mercy and love accomplish this between the asses in our life, and us.
it is then, with eyes wide open, that we see as Balaam did. That perhaps God has used them to protect us from harm, to protect us from sin and disobedience ruining our lives. That their work, whether deliberate or not, has been n incredible blessing.
We need to learn not to think of those people as the cross we have to bear, but instead yearn to take up the cross and follow Christ, for them. Even as He did for us.
It’s a hard lesson, but there is the biggest grace point…. we can’t do it unless we see the cross of Christ, unless we know His love and mercy as we interact with them. Knowing He is there, to heal, to pour out mercy, to pour out grace on us all, turns this from a cross of horrible suffering, into one we can embrace for the joy set before us.
Which is the biggest blessing of all, this need to walk with Christ, to follow Him to the cross, To remember that our life centers in Him – for that is where we meet Him, where we are united to Him, all of us who are called by His name. Remember you baptism, run to receive absolution, find joy in our communion together at His table. together. Amen
So don’t think of them as your crosses, for now you know that is a lie. Bear the cross that brings reconciliation, and learn from our Lord to bear it for the hope sent before us.
Dwell in His Peace!
They aren’t our crosses to bear, to claim so is not a mark of humility, but that of condescension and pride, much as Balaam found out, and confessed. Much as St Josemaria pointed out, .
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1976-1980). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.