“..Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.…
” (Mark 8:34)
It is A W Tozer in one of his writings who advising believers on the way of spiritual progress said, “..Be hard on yourself and easy on others – carry your own cross and never lay one on the back of another..”. This I have tried to take seriously since I read it.
In the last one year or so, there are words I’ve been hearing repeatedly in my heart, “Listen and trust”. At first, it never was anything more than thoughts to ponder on and then move on to the next thing, but when they kept on coming again and again, I decided to take them seriously. It is then that I thought that perhaps they had some specific significance to my life in relation to what the Lord is working on in me. The more I thought about the words, the more I started linking them to some character weaknesses in me and I concluded that they could just be my cross for the season.
In my zeal to share my opinion or perspective in certain matters of faith, I’ve found myself sometimes not listening to what others are saying and hence the need for crucifixion of that aspect of my self. It may be a small thing to others who do not have a weakness in this area, but trust me when I say, “it is hard to listen to another while you are burning inside to tell your side of the story”.
As I have exercised myself in carrying this cross, I have been thoroughly humbled and blessed at the same time while hearing the voice of our Lord not only as He speaks from inside of me, but also through others He dwells in, and His creation all around us. On the one hand, for me to hear significantly, I have to listen, and on the other hand, trust the voice of the Shepherd that I hear.
In the spirit of Tozer’s words referenced above, I am not sharing this as a general word for everyone, but rather to encourage you to embrace your own cross in whatever form it takes.
God’s end for the cross:
3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.(Rom 5)
In whatever form the cross comes to our lives, it is never easy for it means death and death is painful. It takes a revelation of God’s way of dealing with us to appreciate that the cross, whether in form of life circumstances, or an express instruction from God that looks impossible to us, is always for the good. God has pleasure in giving us the kingdom (Luke 12:32), but has also designed the way into the kingdom as through the cross. The cross will crucify everything that is not of Christ and allow the enjoyment of the Kingdom to that which cannot be shaken, Christ.
This perspective allows us to see what God’s goal in allowing the dealings of the cross in us, “the decrease of us, so that Christ may increase.” This for sure is for our good even though it does not seem or feel like that when we are going through it.
Sometimes when going through a very hard situation or circumstances, one may feel very alone, but it’d help for each of us to keep perspective of the unifying nature of Christ’s work in preparing His bride:
“15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;(Eph 2)”
Each member of the body of Christ is important, so much so that the examples we have of men and women of faith (Heb 11:39,40) could not be completed without us who come later. It will take each member growing to maturity to fit in their place for a full functioning of the body in full stature (Eph 4), an objective that even the gates of hell will not prevail against.
While it may not be possible for each saint to be informed about the circumstances of all other saints, I’ve found the Holy Spirit faithful in bringing to our hearts different members of the body at different times, and I am learning not to take any of these nudgings lightly.
When the Lord brings another saint to your heart, it is always a good thing to pray for that person. While saying that, the question arises as to what or how one would pray for when they are not aware of the situation the saint is in? One brother that God has connected me with has always wondered on this and his conclusion has been, “I pray not that the cross be taken away, but rather a sufficient supply of grace be made for God’s end to be furthered through the situation.”
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”James 5:16
Let’s pray for one another,