Take up your cross and follow Me.

I’ve been thinking about those words this week.

What is your cross?

The image of Jesus lugging the actual cross on His back, bent over in exhaustion, came to mind. Then the image of the cross being a source of excruciating pain, suffering, and rejection.

What is your cross?

Yet, when Jesus overcomes the cross we are able to see, with new eyes, a different side of the cross. It was the painful path filled with sacrifice and surrender that ultimately led to freedom and life.

What is your cross?

I think this came to mind for a few reasons.

I was thinking about testimonies shared at creek baptism over the weekend. This last sentence of one man’s journey with addiction resonated with me: “I am grateful for both my family and also my addiction because it helped me to discover life in Christ.”

This is the surprising and redeeming beauty we can discover from the crosses we carry.

Addiction brought pain and agony to this man’s life but it was also the road that led to sweet freedom and renewed hope. Oh, how I can relate to this!

The cross(es) we carry will be those things in life that threaten to crush or derail our lives and our own souls.

Yet, as we follow Jesus and surrender to His desires for our lives, these things become humble reminders that apart from HIM we can do nothing.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matt 16:24-26

Yesterday was the anniversary of my dad’s life changing stroke back in 2012. A fiercely independent man was brought to a place of complete dependence. He was bedridden for over 4 years before passing away in 2016, his body and spirit, giving up.

A few times in the last week, I’ve happened to glance at the time on my cell phone at precisely 7:14. Those numbers are forever ingrained into my heart. It’s the date of my mom’s death and the first thought that comes to mind whenever I happen to see these numbers together. And, tomorrow was my mom’s birthday. Another date etched into my heart.

I share these things because, I think in many ways, the grief we experience in life can be a cross we must carry. Heartache will bring us to a crossroads with our Savior. Where do we place our “I don’t understand” questions, our anger, or our broken hearts?

Do the painful seasons in life pull us away or draw us closer?  Do we drop the cross and walk away or do we grip onto it even tighter and keep walking home?  

There are times in life I feel like Jesus asks me the same question He asked his disciples after sharing hard to swallow truth.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6: 68-69

Take up your cross and follow Me.

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