This morning in church Mark 8:34 was quoted, “Take up your cross and follow me”. It made me think back to a time when the Lord taught me about carrying a cross.
I have a cross that I wear around my neck, I’ve seen earrings in the shape of a cross, people hang them on their walls, use them as book ends. Like everyone else, my view of a cross mentioned in Mark 8:34 was anything difficult that came into my life. So I was a bit startled when the actual meaning of a cross was pointed out to me.
The Gage Canadian Dictionary defines a cross as: “an upright post with another across it near the top, upon which condemned persons were executed by the ancient Romans.” In other words, a cross is a place on which to die.
As I put that definition together with the Lord’s instruction to take up my cross and follow Him, it became apparent to me that any difficult thing in my life is not a cross unless I willingly take up the challenge, die to self in the process and continue to praise the Lord. If I complain and whine about my burden, then it’s not cross but only a chip on my shoulder.
In Phillip Yancy’s book, Disappointment With God, he describes the tragedies Job went through but Yancy doesn’t consider Job to be the main character in the story. Yancy depicts the entire scenario as a wager in heaven between Satan and God. Satan is sure Job will not continue to worship God if all the perks are taken away. God knows Job will worship Him no matter what happens. And so the wager begins.
I love the end of the story. Job remains true and continues to worship God. Every time you or I go through difficult times and continue to worship the Lord, God wins again, states Yancy.
Yes, I have faced difficult times in my life as most people have, grief at the death of our firstborn son, financial problems, job loss, broken relationships and for the past seven plus years, a struggle with ALS. Circumstances like these will make a person bitter or better. The big difference is that to become better I have to die to self. I have determined in every situation to take up that challenge. If I do that, God wins again every time.
I refuse to allow circumstances to make me a bitter, angry person and I don’t want to be known as a person with a chip on my shoulder, allowing Satan to win the battle..
A cross is never expected but when it arrives, when some of my ‘perks’ are taken away, I have the choice to willingly take up that cross for the Lord. I choose to die. Which do you choose?