I hadn’t planned on writing about crosses today. Sometime around the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), I’d snapped a picture of the old hymn “Take Up Your Cross” (below) with the idea that I’d return to it. Maybe meditate on crosses and the words of the hymn. (Or spend ten uninterrupted seconds considering, which is what passes for meditation in my life these days.)
Today I was going to share an advance review of The Young Messiah. But my screening link didn’t work last night. Then Monday happened. Someone had to scramble for a hat for Dr. Seuss Week at school. One kid missed the bus. I discovered our kids’ puzzle pieces were dumped together in the bottom of a cardboard box. Again. I had nothing to write for #MondayBlogs. And my husband and I argued about the state of our house, yet again.
To be truthful, while I’d like to chalk it all up to Monday, there’s nothing unique about the day, even if it is Leap Day. It’s every day. And really, it’s not so bad. We’re in good health. Our finances are okay. We’re blessed in innumerable ways, so many there’s no room for complaint or deprivation of any sort.
Yet those crosses. The little niggling ones. The big ones that weren’t anticipated. The ones that steal hope. The whispers that come with them saying, “Things will never change. It will never be better. This insufferable cross will be lashed to your back until you take your final breath.”
The temptation is to throw back a dose of positive thinking. Work harder, work smarter, be better, do better, pray more, et cetera, and kick that cross to the curb. The discipline and positivity are good as far as they go, but to think the crosses will ever disappear is delusion at best.
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The word “daily” is unique to Luke’s Gospel. Where a near identical verse appears concerning the conditions of discipleship in Matthew’s Gospel, it could be taken as referencing Jesus’s imminent persecution. Luke reminds us that suffering for us is not once and done. It’s the normal course of life.
We have crucifixes hanging in multiple rooms in our home, and yet I forget.
How do we climb ladders? One rung at a time, moving hand then foot, then hand and foot again.
Jesus fell three times under the weight of his cross, yet I’m confounded and disappointed when I fall. He gets up, and so must I. Again. And again.
Because what follows? At the end of the wooden ladder, beyond the foot of the wooden cross?
“Take up your cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only they who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.”
How do you feel about having to take up your cross daily?
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