A few days ago, Paula and I were out for a jog. Actually, Paula was jogging and I was trying to keep up. We were just a few blocks away from our house when all of the sudden Paula stopped. My first thought was, “Great! She’s tired, and I can catch my breath!” She stopped because she saw a small cross on the sidewalk in front of her. She bent down, picked it up, put it in her pocket, and continued. I did not even notice the cross and was just glad that we stopped for a quick rest.

As we were heading back to the house, I started to think of what Jesus said,

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Throughout the day, I kept thinking to myself, “How often do I neglect to pick up my cross and carry it?” At times, I do well; and at times, I put it back down. Often, I am not completely focused on what Jesus did for me, but rather I’m focused on myself.

So, what does that mean to carry my cross? Does it mean that I need to die to self, be willing to be obedient to God, put away petty complaints, forgive others, give all that I have, show mercy, be compassionate, and be willing to serve everyone? Well, YES! Do I always do this? No. It is hard to do all these things because it goes against my sinful nature.

At times, I think we can be excited about being in a relationship with Jesus rather than actually living as if we are in a relationship with Jesus. It is easy for us to get comfortable or even complacent in our relationship with Christ, and we do not actually “hold on” to our cross. We have a tendency to put it down and leave it. We justify sin in our life, and do not confess, repent or ask for forgiveness when we do sin. When taking up the cross, we are reminded of what Christ did and that there is power in what was accomplished on the cross.

In Jesus’ time, the cross was a symbol of death; today it is a symbol of life! A life that is full of joy, hope, and restoration! Jesus continued to say in Matthew,

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

True life is a life surrendered to Jesus, free from the bondage of sin, and assured of being in the presence of God for all eternity. Taking up our cross is a choice to follow God. We are saying that we are not living for ourselves but for God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

I want to encourage you to keep your cross, never put it down, and continue to die to self and live in the power of cross. It is a power that sets us free from sin and always brings forgiveness no matter what the sin is. It enables us to be in a personal relationship with the Great and Loving God.

Paula still has the cross that she found and she keeps it in the house. Every time I see it, it reminds me that (not only am I out of shape, but) I need to never leave my cross behind and I must carry it every day.

-Capt. Roy Wild