“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 27:34
Are you carrying your cross with joy? Where do you place your trust, in yourself, or God? Do you try to maintain chaotic control or do you allow God to maintain perfect control?
The other day, a dear friend, reminded me of bearing my crosses. I had allowed anxiety and fear to settle in. In doing so, I was not allowing Christ to help me carry that cross. I was relying on my own ability to carry it. I was not carrying it with joy but with anger. What she sent me to read was a reflection by Gus Lloyd iterating how bloody Christ’s cross was and that ours is also not pretty or easy. All the same, we should imitate Christ as we carry that cross and allow Him to help us. Over the years, I have had moments where I carry the cross with joy and moments when I don’t. When I look to the cross, to Christ and lay down my struggles at the foot of the cross, He gives me the strength and the overwhelming joy to carry it. That is an amazing feeling. So, I ask myself why do I still try to maintain my own chaotic control and try to carry it on my own?
My first response would be I’m human and I’m going to falter, especially to my old habits of self reliance. Another response I ponder on is that when I falter, my faith becomes stronger. In the midst of that struggle in my self reliance, God sends someone or something to remind me that it is He who I should look to as I carry this cross. Although it may still be a dirty, ugly cross, He will bring me “across the finish line” with joy running through my heart and soul, the joy of Christ.
It is not the cross that we should focus on but it is the one who is beside us within us that is bearing the weight of that cross. This is the focus of joy, not sorrow; happiness, not anger; trust, not anxiety.
Today as I read the Gospel reading with my girls, Mark 27:34 hit me like a train as it was my second reminder to not rely on myself but to pick up my cross with the love of Christ and carry it along side Him with all the splinters, rough edges, dirt, and blood. This is where my life shines and bears fruit. This is where my heart sings and rejoices. Today, I am filled with this reminder that my cross is where Christ delivers me and my relationship with Him is strengthened.
Are you ready to pick up your cross and follow Christ? Are you prepared to surrender your self will, self reliance? Are you ready to be filled with overwhelming joy and grace as you carry your cross, allowing Christ to bear the load with you?