When Jesus tells us to pick up the cross and follow me — you never know where that might take you.
For many of us, this journey is rarely filled with spiritual highs and mountaintop experiences. It is a journey — much like dragging a cross through the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem. It is bumpy, long and filled with great exertion. Yet, there is a purpose involved. There is a peace that goes beyond understanding. As the Apostle Paul states, we all must be crucified of the world spiritually in order to find freedom and rest.
This means that living the Christian life is not easy and we can expect difficulty. There are days where we just want to give in and give up.
What does it mean to take up the cross?
It means reading the Bible and getting nothing out of it. It means going to church and listening carefully but hearing nothing. It means thirsting both spiritually physically while you seem to be trekking through a desert with nothing in sight.
Yet, we move on on step at a time.
If you are feeling dry. If you are feeling no sense of communion with God. Please wait patiently. Don’t panic. Keep walking in faith, one step at a time, until you come to the end of your desert, even if it takes 40 years.
Our sinful nature is very impatient. We want to seek and find the glory and bypass the way of the cross. But, when you read the Apostle Paul, he had a much better understanding of the Christian journey. He says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to a attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10).
We focus on knowing the power of His resurrection and what the Holy Spirit does provide, but we reject Paul’s warning that in order to fully receive that power it must coincide with His sufferings. If there is no daily taking up of the cross, there is no daily resurrection and hence no daily power. There is no other way. This is what God ordained for Christ and this is what God has ordained for you. God does not give us the option of enjoying only resurrection power without crucifixion weakness.
“… As Christians, the real victory we seek in this work is not for ourselves, but for the gospel. Our greatest yearning should be for God’s kingdom to expand and for His will to be done on earth. Often we must surrender ourselves to what the world views as defeat in order for the gospel to advance.” (Skip Gray)
“Bitterness destroys more Christian workers than immorality.” Lorne Sanny