I was sitting here thinking to myself, how amazing life can be. That the outcome of what we pursue is often the very thing that keeps us busy day in day out, sometimes for good and often for worse.
As the years passed I have had some lucky breaks, but along with those breaks came moments of indecision and missed opportunities that hurt either financially or emotionally. I hardly ever considered the spiritual ramification of my quests because for a while I was convinced I lived in some type of protective bubble. If only that were true…yet I know for those who are in Christ, He is in them, therefore such a protection does exist! Just not along the realm of my train of thought, but rather according to His word and promise to those who belong to Him.
I remember approximately 17 years ago, I was invited by a friend of mine to start cycling. The thought excited me, and I began looking for a decent entry level road bike. There was a lot to consider, color, frame size, rim design, seat and handlebars, what type of tape to use for a better grip, which gear train to use, type of cranks, hub and bearings, the list was seemingly endless. Instead of buying a stock bike, because I am tall, it was better to custom build my bike. For anyone who knows about this sport, as soon as you start customizing a racing bike the costs begin to shift upward and before you know it, you are paying far more than you anticipated. Well, in addition to building my bike, I needed the gear…shorts, shirts, socks, clip on shoes, helmet, gloves, drinking bottles, energy supplements, fruit bars, corn starch etc. A high powered hand pump light enough to carry on training rides, spare tubes…the list seemed to grow infinitely. I seriously began to wonder if I really wanted to take up the hobby of cycling!
Luke 14:28-30 says “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish it.”
I wanted to become a cyclist, but had no idea it would cost on the back end to get all the fancy equipment on the front end. I had to make provision for the financial input before I could enjoy the benefit of cycling down the road on my custom built racing bike.
The parallel to this example is remarkably close to the lives we live in Christ. Sometimes we think that everything will simply be taken care of and that we have no need of doing anything. But the Lord reminds us that we ought to choose the foundation we will build our lives on, using Him as the cornerstone, which all the other builders rejected. That in building our lives in Christ we should count the cost, and understand that it is required of us to participate not only in all the many blessings of the Lord, but also in the trials and tribulations that will surely come across our lives.
I thank the Lord that through His grace He enables us to continue pressing forward, without shame knowing that He set the example for us when He was crucified.
Luke 9:23 says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that the Lord set His own life as an example and then encourages us to daily follow Him by picking up our own cross. The road that we will navigate will probably not be too easy, alone, but with Him living in us, leading and guiding us, the effort and labor of carrying our cross will be easier.
What does “carrying your own cross” mean to you? I think we could establish very quickly what that cross is in our lives. Perhaps it is the need to walk out life in such a way that family members see Christ in us. Maybe it is doing something we normally wouldn’t do along the lines of being a good Samaritan, helping someone we normally wouldn’t consider assisting. Or, dealing with a life situation that seemingly has no escape, and needs to be walked out daily in such a way that the Lord is glorified. For someone maybe it entails working in a place that needs you there to shine as a light and beacon of hope to those who really could do with some guidance.
It is refreshing to stop and pause a while, and look inward for a moment. I know that what I carry today as my cross someone else would have no problem carrying it, yet for me it is heavy, digging into my shoulders and splintering my hands and arms as I try and bear it alone. But then, walking that path, I see many brothers and sisters carrying crosses that I wouldn’t be able to support, let alone walk with. Funny how we think someone’s cross is lighter, easier, smaller to carry than our own. If only we walked in their shoes. At the front of the crowd, however, I see One who carried His cross, willingly, out of love and knowing the joy and reward set before Him, edging all of us on, to keep going, to carry this cross just a little longer.
The reward that we can enjoy if we endure is absolutely worth every splinter, every callous, every blister, every drop of blood and every tear that we may experience.
So, it should be said that we can rejoice in carrying our cross for the Lord, because He lives within us, therefore the temporary discomfort is manageable. None of us may like what we have to face each day, both in our own lives, our relationships, our environment – the list is endless, but one thing for certain, if He called us, if we carry our own cross – He is more than able to give us the strength we need to complete the journey He called us to walk in.