Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pick Up Your Cross

Jesus invites us to be his disciples. If we choose to accept his loving invitation, we must understand that there are certain conditions to be fulfilled. One of them is a willingness to accept the cross. Is this a once-for-all taking up of one particular burden? I don't think so. It seems to me that my "cross" is each particular occasion when I am given the chance to "die"--that is, to offer up my own will whenever it crosses Christ's. This happens very often. A disagreement with my husband can cause an argument and harsh words, even if the matter is ridiculously small--"When are you going to get that dashboard light fixed in the car?" I have already mentioned the light three times. It may be time to keep my mouth shut, but I don't want to keep my mouth shut. Here, then, is a chance to die. A decision which affects both of us may be a fairly big one, but we find ourselves on two sides of the fence. One of us, then, must "die."
It is never easy for me. Shall I make excuses for myself (that's the way I am; it's my personality; it's the way I was raised; I'm tired; I can't hack it; it doesn't turn me on; you don't understand)--or shall I pick up this cross?
Perhaps my illustration seems to trivialize the cross of Christ. His was so unimaginably greater. What cross could I possibly take up which would be analogous? Just here is the lesson for me: when Jesus took up his cross, He was saying yes with all his being to the will of the Father. If I am unwilling to say yes in even a very little thing, how shall I accept a more painful thing? What sort of practice does it take for a disciple to learn to follow the Crucified? A friend hurts us, a plan goes awry, an effort fails--small things indeed. But then cancer strikes, a daughter marries unwisely, a business folds, a wife abandons her home and family. The call still comes to us: Take up your cross and come with Me. With You, Lord? Yes, with Me. Will You give me strength and show me the way? That was my promise--is it my custom to break promises?
(Elisabeth Elliot)

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