Jesus told us to “Take up your cross daily”. It was said metaphorically, but it’s kind of ironic that the first time I DID try to pick up a cross, it was too heavy for me.
I happened to be with friends at a church meeting place on Sunday afternoon when people were busy packing up after the Sunday morning service.
Being the lazy boy I am, I sat and watched them for a while but eventually I managed to galvanize myself into action and asked how I could help.
There are three wooden crosses which they bring out onto the stage on Sunday mornings. They’re big things, I didn’t measure them but I’m guessing six to eight feet tall.
Being a guy, when asked to pick them up and carry them to the storage facility, I readily agreed and walked up to the first fully intending on yanking it out of its holder, throwing it over my shoulder and maybe going and grabbing a second to hoist onto my other shoulder. As I pictured my manly march across the hall in my mind, I imagined myself looking much the way Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he carried a whole tree at the beginning of ‘Commando’.
It appears I grossly underestimated my strength though because I grabbed hold of the first cross and…. completely failed to even lift it off the floor.
I jokingly commented about how my cross was too heavy for me to carry and even as I said the words, they resonated deep within me with a truth that I hadn’t truly considered:
All too often, I ready DO think my cross is too heavy to carry – my metaphorical one, that is.
When Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) He was bringing up a familiar picture in the minds of his first century listeners, a picture of someone heading to their death, a horrible death, walking in shame through the streets looked on with no compassion, no help from anyone. Carrying your cross meant physically carrying the instrument of your own agonizing death to the place of execution.
What he was trying to convey was that following him is not easy. It’s not all days of bouncing through fields of flowers, the sun on your face and not a care in the world, it’s also sometimes hard and maybe embarrassing and often painful.
Being a follower of Christ means literally needing to die to yourself and sacrificing your own dreams and desires and replacing them with a willingness to do whatever God calls you to do, whether it’s easy or not, even if it loses your friends or you think it will make you lose face in front of them.
All to often though, we are not willing. We put that cross down because we simply think it’s too heavy of a burden to bear.
I don’t think there’s any excuse for that other than our own unwillingness to obey.
We say our cross is too heavy to carry but we never truly give God a chance to help us with the load.
I don’t want to be that guy.
When I really tried, I was able to pick that cross up and once I was carrying it, it was nowhere near the burden I at first thought it was…
It’s funny how that works…
I’ll leave you with this ‘secret’ from postsecret.com a few weeks ago: