"Whoever chooses to follow Me must deny himself, take up His cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 10:20 NKJV)
I was thinking about this taking up your cross and following me that Jesus spoke of. The idea of plowing a field came to mind. The picture of beautifully tilled land with row after row of straight lines began to unfold. I see broken earth, dark and rich from years of being nourished by falling leaves, gentle rains, and bright rays of sunlight. Rocks, once hiding, now brought to the surface by the plowman's horse steadily pulling the tool through the soil... And the sweet smell of moist dirt permeates the air.
Can you picture a man as he stands looking over that field? Imagine his contentment as he stares down the "washboard-like" plain. Picture him smile as he remembers each obstacle that grudgingly, held it's ground until giving way to the determined wedge. But something about this field doesn't seem right. Something about the straight lines bother me.
The spiritual fields we plow are never straight even though we try to package them in neat little rows. And they are not dug up with beasts of burden pulling a steel implement. They are always dug with the cross we are called to bear as God becomes our song, our strength and our salvation.
I think the lines we dig are twisted and turned, even crossing. Often they are retraced and very deep while others only scratch the hard surface. These crooked lines are like the streets that Jesus walked as He carried His heavy timbers through the twists and turns, the narrow alleys and open market places, and the steps and potholes that made His journey to Golgotha. Each obstacle forced Him, to go around them, changing His course from straight to crooked.
Detours in our path change our course too. They make our trek to the hilltop of self-denial more difficult than we planned. They make us second-guess our decision to be a disciple of Christ.
Is it any wonder...
...that so many drop their cross?
...many more only put their hands on the beams and let them go?
...still, that others see their cross and quickly turn their head?
...so many more refuse to even look?
Does your burden, your cross, look too heavy? You're right, it is and it was too much to ask... but it was still required. The cross Jesus carried was required to save your soul and mine. The one He carried could have, should have, and would have been carried by each of us. But we couldn't...so He did.
But, what of the cross we carry that is not for salvation but to prove that the will of God is perfect (Romans 12; 1 & 2)? Jesus said,
"Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-30)
You know sometimes we fear the cross because we think we have to carry it ourselves. God sent Jesus to us to be yoked with us.
You see a cross has a center post that splits a crossbeam. Jesus asks us to let Him be on the other side of the cross we are called to. He knows the burden God gives us and He asks us, "Will you come unto Me?" I hope you and I will say yes, not just once, but daily.