Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must take up his or her cross and follow me.” Matthew 16: 24
Every one of us came into this room today carrying a cross, our own personal cross. We didn’t leave it at home; we didn’t check it at the door. It’s right here with us.
We all have stuff to deal with. It may be a physical or emotional illness, or the loss of a loved one, or betrayal by a friend. It may be poverty or unemployment, or any one, or a combination of several different sorrows. Whatever it is, it is our own personal cross. But if God is all-powerful and if God knows and loves us unconditionally, why do we have these crosses to carry? Many years ago I witnessed something that has helped me to deal with this question.
When our children were in nursery school Wanda and I would occasionally take turns volunteering as ‘teacher’s helper’. One day I was in a classroom filled with pre-schoolers playing happily by themselves with building blocks. This one little girl was happily singing and building a tower of blocks that was almost as tall as she was. Suddenly a little boy came by and knocked down her tower of blocks. They scattered all over the floor. And that little girl cried her heart out. At that moment in time, and in her child-mind, her whole world had come to an end. She was inconsolable.
As I looked on with sympathy I knew that her moment of sorrow would pass, and be forgotten, and that she would build and enjoy many more towers in her life. Witnessing that scene gave me an insight that remains with me today.
Not to minimize or liken them to child’s play, but the crosses that we carry, the bad things we endure in life, are locked in a moment in time – just like that classroom. But God, as well as each one of our immortal souls, is timeless. And God is with us here in time, holding our hand through the suffering and leading us home.
God is present at the center of our own personal cross just as surely as he is present at the center of that cross hanging behind our parish altar. And some day, when we are safe in God’s embrace for all eternity, all the crosses, all the pain and suffering we are experiencing in life will somehow be forgotten. If we could see eternity and the timeless love that awaits us with God, the crosses that we now carry would seem so much lighter.
There is no resurrection without the cross. And we all have them. Let us continue to take up our personal cross each day, at peace in the knowledge that Jesus is always walking with us, holding our hand, leading us to our own resurrection, and to a place where there will be no more crosses.
Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:
Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministry