Big Crosses/ Little Crosses

I’m driving along and I get stuck in a massive traffic jam.  InchingBig cross little cross my way down the road, I fret, wondering if I will get to where I need to go by the time I need to be there.  Then, up ahead on the right, I see the cause of the jam—an overturned car.  The thought that runs through my head—I kid you not—is, “Oh good.  It’s an accident.  Once I get past that, the speed will pick up.”

Tell me you’ve done that, at least once.  I’d hate to think I’m the only one.

My mantra of late has been, “It’s not about me.”  Sounds noble, except that I say it through gritted teeth.  Because, in the end, it usually is about me.  I didn’t say it should be—I just said it is.  I suppose that’s normal enough.  We all see the world through the filter of our own situations, needs, desires.  But we’re not called to be normal, are we?

The title of this blog is A Life Worthy.  It’s based on Ephesians 4:1, in which Paul encourages us to live a life “worthy of the calling we have received.”  I’m having a tough time supporting the premise that God has called me to a life focused on myself.  After all, Jesus said, “…not my will, but yours” (Matthew 26:39).  The Lord of the Universe, He Who Spoke and it Was, said, in essence, “It’s not about me.”  He said it in Gethsemane.  He showed it on the cross.

He meant it.

There are big crosses and little crosses.  I think I could be a martyr, if the need arose.  Seriously.   I think that, if someone stuck a gun in my face and told me to deny Christ, I would take the bullet with joy.  Similarly, if someone desperately needed me, I think I would race into the burning building, dive into the freezing water, leap into the path of the oncoming train.  Those are big crosses, and they come with a payoff—people think you’re awesome.  So, really, even when it’s not about me, it ends up being about me.  Besides, it’s easy to say I’d do these things—what are the chances that any of those moments will come to a middle school teacher?

The little crosses are different.  They come along every day—and they’re very bearable.  I just don’t want to.  Lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, I’m confronted with “It’s not about me,” moments.  Home, work, friends—I face endless opportunities to develop a servant’s heart, if only I could stop gritting my teeth.

OK, here’s a classic example from last night.  The Wife of My Heart is ill, so I decided to make her Michael’s Miracle Healing Elixir Chicken Soup of Delight.  Now, I’d had an insanely long day, and I was desperate for sleep.  I had to stop at the store for ingredients, and the soup would take well over an hour to prepare.  But none of that mattered.  I only wanted to serve the one I love.  For a brief, shining moment, it really wasn’t about me.  Then Cathy asked me to pick up a few other things while I was already at the market, and I went into a snit.  A full-fledged, honest-to-goodness snit.

What is my problem?

Better question: What is my solution?

Jesus said, “Take my yoke and learn from me…”  OK, a yoke is a tool used to guide and control oxen—among the dumbest animals ever to walk the planet.   Should work for me.  So, guide me, Lord.  Steer me—no pun intended.  Teach me how you, the Lord of all, were willing to be born, to live, and to die as a servant.

I’m sure this is overly simplistic, and I’m probably missing a ton here—feel free to correct me.  But as I look at the life of Jesus, I see that spending time alone with the Father was a huge priority for him.  Time and again we see that Jesus chose to go off by himself and pray.  Those times were essential to him.  Non-negotiable.  I am not about to surmise what happened in Christ’s quiet time with the Father, but I know what happens in mine.

When I am alone with the Father he realigns my priorities and my vision. It’s like waking up in the morning and putting on my glasses.  Suddenly everything becomes clear.   A few moments’ time before the throne is usually sufficient to remind me of what is important—and what is not.  It’s amazing how small most of my concerns seem when viewed from His perspective.

When I am alone with the Father he reminds me of who I am—and who I am not.  He reminds me that I am sin, every day, and then graciously allows me to repent and be restored, every day.  He reminds me that I am his precious, beloved child, called out of this world to love him and to bring him glory. He reminds me that I am his servant, called to humble obedience, even as Christ demonstrated.

He reminds me that I am not God, no matter how badly my flesh wishes I were.

When I am alone with the Father he fills my tanks.  He gives me the desire to serve him, and then equips me with the love, the wisdom, the grace to do it. I don’t have to manufacture love—he gives it to me.  I don’t have to say, “It’s not about me,” through gritted teeth.  He gives me joy to sing it aloud.

Can it really be that straightforward?  Can the key to becoming more like him be as simple as spending time with him?  Then why do I make it so hard?

Answer me that, and you’re my hero for life.

Come with me, my friend.  Commit to spending the time with him to let him mold you, shape you—the Potter and the clay, Baby.  Then we will have the strength to bear the crosses he gives us.

The big ones.

And the little ones.




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