Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take up Your Cross and Follow Me ~ Mark 8:34

Sounds intimidating doesn't it? Sounds somewhat scary to me knowing what the cross symbolizes, the ultimate sacrifice that was given for us, every single one of us.  So what does it really mean then? Are we to carry an actual cross? I have a few thoughts on this that I would love to share with you.

Think with me for a moment what it would be like to carry and actual cross on your back, my guess is it is extremely heavy with a rough wooden surface I know I would have to drag it because I couldn't possibly lift it off the ground.  Also if I was carrying a cross my thoughts probably wouldn't be anywhere else, I would be so consumed with thinking about how to carry it, making sure I don't drop it, probably really realizing how heavy it is. See a parallel here?

We live in a world where it is all about self and a focus that turns inward, there is very little room for thoughts about others let alone thoughts about God.  Every magazine shows us how to better our life, focusing mostly on the outside caring very little for what goes on on the inside.  Therefore the end result is many lonely, empty, unhappy people because we have believed this false hope that if we change what is on the outside we will feel better on the inside but no matter how many surgeries, pounds lost and new clothes bought it cannot ultimately change the inside.  Oh sure it can help what we 'feel' like temporarily but in the end that true sense of peace with oneself,  that alone comes from a relationship with the one who created us to be unique and special.  Does this mean that we shouldn't dress nice & take care of bodies? Absolutely we should, what I am saying is if it consumes our entire thought life and we become dependent on that for happiness, that is when it is a real concern.

Taking up the cross not only means that our focus should be on our Savior and His ways and what the word says, but the cross really symbolizes ultimate sacrifice.  In the same way we must ultimately sacrifice our selfishness for a higher purpose.  Turning our constantly streaming thoughts about ourselves into action for someone else.  Reaching out, offering hope and encouragement to others.  This will require sacrifice; a sacrifice of pride, sacrifice of time and at times a sacrifice financially.  Just as the sacrifice on the cross for each one of us gave us the reward of eternal life, there is a reward for our sacrifice as well, it may come in the form of peace, new friendships, hope for the future and so many other unique ways.

What I do know for sure is that God has called us to an intimate relationship with Him and that verse actually pictures it perfectly.  Following Him everyday,our thoughts turned to Him, focused on His goodness and His love.  At the same time with every step we take we are ready and willing to sacrifice, having a heart ready to listen and act.

Have I arrived yet? Absolutely not, I am ashamed to admit how much I turn my thoughts inward and yet I know that each and everyday my desire is to grow closer to this model as described in Mark 8, not the model on the cover of a magazine.  There will be times when I am carrying this cross that it may become heavy and I may need a rest, I may trip and fall but I know that no matter what there is one awesome, amazing God waiting to help me on this journey.  He makes the journey exciting, offers forgiveness, grace and a peace that passes all understanding.

Will you join me on this journey?

Have a great week everyone!!