What’s Your Cross?

Wisdom isn’t reserved for the old. As much as we mature Christians and aging Baby Boomers might like to think, wisdom is not exclusive to folks over sixty. A younger, yet precious, Christian brother recently reminded of this lesson. As we were talking after church, I mentioned how God is often the only One who can help us overcome those temptations that always seem to entrap us. Thinking about what I had said, I recognized internally that withstand was perhaps a better word. As God often does, His validation was instant.

My brother-in-Christ stated matter of fact, “Sometimes brother, God wants us to carry them around with us for a while. Remember, Jesus said, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ (excerpted from Luke 9:23, emphasis mine).” Did you note the lowercase “h” in “his cross”? You could have picked me up off the floor. It often surprises but never amazes me how God uses others to give you the word He has for you. We, however, must be willing to allow God to use us.

God can use all those who are willing to be used for His glory. #Surrender #Discipleship #GodsPurpose Share on X

Thinking and praying about what my friend had shared with me, I considered various thoughts. I entertained how the Apostle Paul wrote about how many times he had asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul described that thorn as “a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” While we can’t know until that Day, I’ve convinced myself it was epilepsy, but that’s one old guy’s opinion. God’s purpose? Perhaps it was His way of keeping Paul, a once proud and highly respected Pharisee (a Jew’s Jew), a humble servant.

I also thought about some things God has had me carry, and some that I still carry to this day. Scars from a troubling childhood and smoking (only stopping after a second heart procedure). And alcohol? Let’s just say there was a time when I could tell you more about single malt Scotch than some distillers. All these things were carried with me as an adult, some for more than twenty years after my salvation. Their purpose? God used them to teach me forgiveness and to develop, mature, and refine various fruits of the Spirit that have helped me grow as a Christian.

What is God’s purpose for the cross He has given you to carry? #GodsPurpose #Discipleship #SpiritualGrowth Share on X

Oh, the world calls them habits instead of sin. Some (e.g., social drinking and casual sex) are not even frowned upon these days. Narcissism, the excessive focus on oneself, appears to have become normalized as the world has become more about “Me” than “We.” Even parts of the church have surrendered to the cultural changes that lead away from God and His teachings.

We have forgotten that sanctification means to be “set apart for God.” We can’t do that if we remain mired in worldliness; and we can’t do it by ourselves. For this reason, I believe God does (as my friend suggested) have us carry some crosses until He sees the evidence of our mastery over those worldly things. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t want to free us from those habitual sins and destructive behaviors. Rather, He uses those crosses to humble us and to keep us seeking Him. When we learn to rely upon God, and subject ourselves to His Lordship over our lives, then He can refine and shape us to become more like His Son.

I can’t tell you the number of prayers where I pleaded with God, “help me stop smoking for good this time, Lord”. It’s impossible to calculate how many times I silently asked God to take my drinking from me as I was sipping my customary four fingers of single malt before supper.

I carried those crosses until I learned His important lessons on living as a Christian. God wanted me to learn the importance of turning to Him for help when the temptations arrive and not while I am mired in them or recovering from them. The other is how to live out the words of 2 Corinthians 10:5, and take every thought captive. Some, I’m still learning to master.

To this day, I’m carrying crosses. The cross I bear is anger. As much as I dislike this truth about myself, my patience wears thin from time-to-time and I lash out in anger. That slamming door or flying tool, or that harsh word, does nothing to improve the situation and only serves to keep me angry longer; either at others or at myself.

Until that day, I suppose there’ll be crosses for me to carry. I’ve come to accept that as I continue learning to take up my cross daily and ask His help in carrying it. A wonderful gift God has given me is the ability to lay my cross down and rest in Him each night. When I forget to perform this as part of my nightly prayer, just as I’m closing my eyes, I toss, turn, dream, and am burdened by its weight.

As you go through your week, consider what cross you are still carrying and ask God to show you how to lay it down. I won’t promise that He won’t have another waiting for you, but oh how sweet the journey, with Him beside you.

God’s Blessings

42 thoughts on “What’s Your Cross?”

  1. Thank you for sharing how we all have burdens to carry, but there is only One who will lift those burdens and use them for His glory. I appreciate the reminder. We are all a work in progress until the Father calls us home.

    1. Amen Ms. DiAnn. Knowing that we are never left alone to carry those burdens brings such joy to my heart. The great part about being “God’s WIP” is that we already know (not envision, think, or hope) what/Who the final version will be like. God’s blessings ma’am.

  2. Thank you for your honesty about carrying personal crosses. I have personal crosses that continue to affect my daily life. I’ve prayed and prayed. This message reminds me that God is using those crosses for His plan. His message is being shared through my experiences. Your words have soothed my soul today. God bless you. Have a blessed day dear friend! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Melissa. Each of us, if we can be honest with ourselves, have a cross (or many in my case) to bear. I pray for strength each day to pick it up and carry as I follow Him, knowing that I can lay it down (actually, He takes it from my weary shoulders) each night. Yes ma’am, for His plan. How well-stated my friend. God’s blessings.

  3. Oh my friend I so strongly relate. As I take communion each morning, I remember and am overcome with gratitude that he bore my many sins and that I am now a new creation. I don’t feel I deserve the blessings He has showered on me, but I gratefully receive them. I think we will always have to carry a cross while we are on this earth because we still have much to learn and mature in. But as you said, we can lay them down and rest in Him knowing He cares for us so tenderly.

    1. Amen Ms. Ann. That’s the wonderful thing about His free gift of salvation, by grace through faith. We can never be worthy of receiving His gifts, yet He loves us so. Humbling, isn’t it my friend?

  4. Marjorie Hill

    Thanks so much for your insight. I have to reevaluate the crosses in my life and realize they are visible to others. If so, maybe they can be used to bring others to our Lord as I share the victory Jesus brings to my life.

    1. What a great point Ms. Marjorie. Others see that we are bearing a cross. They may not always know what they is, but if they’re true Believers, they’ll be the ones who come alongside you in prayer to help you bear that weight. Threefold cords my friend.

  5. So much wisdom in your message today, my kind friend. With transparent humility, you share your past and recent crosses and help us reflect on our own crosses–and the need to identify them and seek God’s assistance. We can’t carry the cross alone without it crushing us under the heavy load. I’m so thankful for our Lord’s help in helping me break the bonds of sin–no–He broke the bonds of sin–I couldn’t do it. You’ve reminded me to reflect on those areas where I still need His intervention. Thank you, J.D., for your inspiring words today and your role model as God’s messenger. May God bless you.

    1. As I’ve learned from your example Ms. Katherine. It’s when we live our lives in a transparent manner (if we’re living right, we should have nothing to hide), that’s when our testimony is strongest. Yes, the heavy load of some crosses is too much for us to bear alone. And while God will come and help you carry them if you ask and keep yourself in His will, He made us Christians to be helpmates one to the other. I remember, without sorrow now, how wonderful it felt to come alongside you as you carried “Farmer Bob’s” cross with him during his battle. He’s won now, even though it probably still doesn’t feel like a victory to you, I take solace in knowing I was faithful to a Christian brother and his dear wife. What an honor it is to help others with their crosses. In some ways, doing so lightens our load. God’s blessings ma’am.

  6. Kathy Collard Miller

    I’m so glad the Lord is patient even as He knows exactly how He will help us. We won’t reach perfection until heaven yet, as you said, sanctification calls for our progress.Thank you, J.D.

    1. So true Ms. Kathy, but we must be willing to keep reaching toward that goal of His upward call. I like to think that when the Day comes, it won’t be such a vast expanse that His grace will have to span.

  7. J.D., I was watching the animation of Pilgrim’s Progress. The line, “He (Worldly Wise) made the difficulty of your journey something you wanted to avoid,” stood out to me. The world says avoid all discomfort. God says persevere under trials and be rewarded. Great post.

    1. YES! What a great analogy. Satan ALWAYS points us away from God, even when he tries to deceive us with what appears to be God’s Word. Thank you for such a great addition to our conversation ma’am. Excited for your newest book, arriving soon!

  8. We all bear some cross or another in this life, J. D. It’s inevitable. But if we remember to thank God for His unfailing help in carrying them, we are bound to emerge victorious on the other side of troubles. He is our good, good Father!

  9. Oh, such truth here, my brother.
    Would we love to conquer the world— at least our own little world— or maybe our own little selves?
    Even though Holy Spirit in us helps us overcome, we’ll not be masters of it all until we get to our glorious Homeland.
    Meanwhile, we’re more understanding of others and compassionate to the imperfect people around us as we contend with our own shortcomings.
    Great post. Thanks.

    1. Yes ma’am. I think our desire to be first, best, most important all stem from the fall of the first Adam. Praise God for the second Adam who rescued us and removed the shackles of sin. I too am looking forward to that Day when we no longer have to wrestle with humanity. God’s blessings sweet sister.

  10. Excellent truths delivered with a side of refreshing personal transparency. Your blog is always a good read, but this one, my friend, is stellar. Thank you for sharing so faithfully.

    But…epilepsy? ☺️ I’ve not heard that one before!

    1. Aww shucks. Thank you Ms. Cynthia; you are far too kind ma’am. Having watched my little brother suffer with gran maul seizures, “buffeted by a messenger of Satan” (shaken by a demon of Satan) is a pretty good way to describe what happens. 🙂 Just one old farmer’s conjecture.

    1. Thank you Ms. Stephanie. So pleased you enjoyed the post ma’am, and thank you for subscribing. The greatest compliment we can pay a writer is to read what they write next. I pray I can earn your trust. God’s blessings.

  11. JD, I’ve learned the struggles I went through have allowed me to be more empathetic and patient with others. Excellent post about self-denial, how God is greater than anything we face.

    1. Thank you Ms. Julia. Glad you could appreciate the post ma’am. And yes, we can learn a great many lessons when we stay attuned to God’s will through the struggle. God’s blessings ma’am.

  12. Thank you, J.D., for being so courageous to share the crosses you have borne. It is so true, that we learn to trust the Lord so much more as we bear those crosses and look to Him for the strength to do so.

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I’ve learned through life that we all bear crosses of one sort or another. It’s when we come together as a body of true Believers and list each other up that we’re best able to live out the fellowship that Christ encourages His body to live. Although I’m far from perfect, I know there’s others who are right there with me. If my walk and my testimony of God’s faithfulness helps just one person, then I’m satisfied that I have fulfilled God’s purpose for me that day. God’s blessings sweet lady.

  13. I appreciate your honesty and transparency here, JD. What truth – oh my, how this hits home. It makes bearing those crosses a little easier when you consider God using them for His purposes.

    Thank you for this, my friend.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Candyce. I think it important that we share God’s truths honestly; and that means sharing the ugly past in our lives and the struggles we too face. I want to believe that our transparency helps to connect us with our readers. Walking in faith as a Christian is not an easy journey, and God’s Word tells us that. Still, the destination we are assured of if we are faithful to endure is worth every difficult and challenging step. God’s blessings precious sister-in-Christ. So blessed to walk beside you in our journey in faith ma’am.

  14. Yvonne Morgan

    You gave me reason to pause and think JD. So many crosses through the years and most with a purpose. Some of them impact our lives for God’s glory while others serve to correct something in us. Thanks for sharing your gift of wisdom.

    1. Yes, we’ve carried many crosses Ms. Yvonne. Some of our own making and some thrust upon us. I think that part of our reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be in recognition of how well we bore those crosses. I pray I grow stronger and have more endurance with each one God chooses to place on my path. I pray also the same for you and others sweet friend. God’s blessings.

  15. Very powerful post, brother JD. It’s not something I often think about, so I appreciate the nudge. My current major cross is being caregiver to my mother, whose dementia is growing steadily worse. I think the Lord chose me to bear this cross to sanctify me in ways I sorely needed. That said, this cross has also brought unexpected blessings! My mother was never affectionate to me, rarely laughed, and worked nonstop. Now she enjoys her life and is super loving and affectionate. I will have my heart full of the best memories of her after she graduates to heaven. For now, she’s in excellent health snd going strong as she approaches the midpoint of 101. Thank you for a wonderful post. Blessings, dear friend.

    1. YES! So true Ms Karen. Caring for an aging loved one is a cross I too carried for a while. While difficult, it was a cross that I gladly carried. On the morning after I returned my dad to Florida and left him a stronger, more vibrant, and “alive” man, I felt as though I placed him in God’s hands. I never got to see my dad in person again. He stayed with both my sister and oldest brother until the end, and every day He heard me tell him I loved him. I pray you will one day hold cherished memories of the care you provided your sweet mama. God’s blessings ma’am.

  16. Thanks for your wisdom and transparency, J.D. You’ve given me much to think about. One thing is sure. I’m grateful for Jesus, who strengthens us to bear any cross He allows in our lives. Blessings to you!

    1. Amen Ms. Annie. We certainly wouldn’t have the strength to carry the crosses God has allowed us to carry without Him ma’am. I too thank Him each day for the strength I need for that day. God’s blessings ma’am.

  17. J.D., your vulnerability is refreshing and it helps all of us relate to the things we must carry. I’m so grateful we are victors because Christ was victorious. May we remember to be set apart from the world with Christ power within us. God bless.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. Like you, we can’t be afraid to be honest with others and ourselves about who we are and the challenges we face. In doing so, we may well help others and ourselves along the way. And yes, may God continue to set us apart from this world and use us to accomplish His purpose in our lives. I remind myself each morning that I have awakened this day because God must still have something for me to accomplish. God’s blessings my friend, and may you awaken many more mornings. Until the day ma’am!

  18. Wonderful insights, J.D. I especially liked this reminder: “. . . how sweet the journey, with Him beside you.”
    May the Lord continue to bless you with peace and joy in your journey.

  19. You know, you armed me with some food for thought. Maybe a cross that I carry is that I often feel inadequate – inadequate in my music, my writing, my prayers, my use of time, etc. But in that sense of inadequacy, I am continually humbled. Is it my cross? I don’t know since deep within, I know that God can and will provide all that is necessary to complete the task He has presented me. Thanks for always giving me a safe place to share my thoughts.

    1. You bring up a good point Ms. Karen. Sometimes, the cross we are asked to carry is a false one. God doesn’t tell us we’re inadequate, He asks you to use all that He has given you and to allow Him to grow and give you more and He prepares you for more service. Sometimes, Satan’s lies (e.g., you’re not smart enough, cute enough, good enough, talented enough, you will never be enough for God to love you) can become a cross. When we start to believe them, we are spiritually hefting them upon our shoulder as if to say, “I’m going to carry this around for a while to see if it fits.” If we carry these false crosses long enough, we forget we’re carrying added weight and it becomes an unnatural part of us. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to show us those things that aren’t ours to carry and that we need to leave by the wayside. We might not realize we’re carrying that extra load until we are freed from it. You are the one who gave me food for thought this day my friend. Thank you!

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