Most all of us have been there before. You know, that place where your ‘should-have-been’ and your ‘wish-it-was’ doesn’t line up with your ‘how-it-is’. It’s not a fun place to be but there I was. I didn’t say anything, at least not out loud but the statement was made all the same. “Lord, I don’t know how to be anymore.” I wasn’t looking for an answer. I didn’t ask a question. Silent but sure the answer came, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. What was I to do with that?
I had the rebuttals (both witty and whiny), the wherefores and the reasons. They were good ones too. I know. I worked hard on them, mulling them over and refining them like polished silver. ‘It’s-not fair’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to’ seemed pretty good. After all, I wasn’t at fault in the matter. The problem was my excuses didn’t line up with my calling.
I sat alone, thinking after prayer meeting one morning. My mind wandered a bit until my eye caught the cross over the baptistery. It’s a simple cross; sanded, stained and varnished to match the rest of the wood in the church. It lends a respectful nod to the cross of long ago but lacks the rugged, brutal character of the one on which our Savior died.
While I stray near the borders of the comfort zone of my faith, I’m not so keen to sacrifice for others or to bestow upon them the grace that was so freely given to me. To be honest, I’m better acquainted with a shiny cross around my neck than a rugged one behind my back.
Call of the Cross
Jesus addressed a group of His followers, explaining the demands of service. Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. The call of the cross is ‘life by a thousand deaths’. It’s the daily laying aside of our rights and privileges for the sake of others. It’s getting us out of the way so they can see Him. That’s not easy.
If anyone had the right to demand His rights, it was Jesus. He could have cried unfair. He could have saved Himself. He did neither. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?” John 19:10. Pilate couldn’t take His life and he didn’t have to. Jesus said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:18. Our pardon was the plan of the Father. Our payment was the price of His Son. Our privilege is to take up the cross and follow.
How About You
Do you struggle with this as I do? Do you wonder how to get past the natural tendency to want to strike back? We must look beyond the pleasure of retaliation to the place of restoration. Jesus gave us the example. He made the pathway clear. We just need to walk in it; and we do that by faith. You’ll be amazed to witness this uncomfortable cross bring comfort and peace.
God bless you and keep you,
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.