Sunday, September 14, 2014

What's all the talk about the Cross?

There's a lot of talk about the Cross, about its value, and about us carrying our crosses. But what does it all mean?

I think there is a balance to be had, somewhere in the middle of the crossbars. 

First, there are the people who say that if we profess Christ, we will have all the good things of this, a comfortable life, whatever we pray for, whatever we can dream about and work for, we can have it all. But we have only to look at the life and death of Christ...and after him, the Apostles, to see that wasn't part of His promise. (And I'm not saying we shouldn't pray and dream and work, just that it's not like a vending machine, where if you put in the right coins, you will get what you want.) 

Then, there are those who seek out crosses; who speak as if we should all have greater ones; who would even inflict them on others, weaker than themselves. That wasn't what He had in mind, either, He who said, "What you do to the least of mine, you do to me." 

Some say, if you are a Christian, you will need to have crosses, seeming to imply that Christians will, perhaps, have more crosses than the rest of man. But as St. Louis de Montfort (1600's-1700's) pointed out, everyone has them, everyone has suffering in their lives; it's more a question of how we will handle it.

Personally, I think it's a matter of where do we turn. Who do we turn to? Do we take them to Him who carried the heaviest cross of all, not only the heavy weight of wood, but also the cross of all of our sins? Do we take them to Him, no matter how weary we are? Him who will give rest to our weary souls? Do we take them to Him, even if we are feeling angry or confused or upset?

I used to think I had to be so very careful how I approached God. He is, after all, God, our Creator, great in His Majesty. But Jesus came to earth as a baby. He told us to approach His Father as our Father. I don't know about you, but as an adult - before my father had dementia - I talked to him pretty freely. I wasn't all, like, "Well, I have to hide my feelings and pretend I'm not human". And God knows we are human, because He created us human.

Last winter, I got caught driving through a snowstorm that sneaked up on me. As I neared my exit on the freeway, I saw that few, if anyone, had gotten off at my exit since the snow had started falling. I saw abandoned cars all along every exit, and I was in my little car, not my husband's Jeep. There was nothing for it; I needed to get off (I couldn't very well just keep driving around the beltway, which wasn't exactly a hay ride).

So I said to God, "You owe me one," and I proceeded, safely, off our exit. Someone I told that to asked me - with a smile - if I was afraid I'd be struck by lightning for saying that. No, actually, I wasn't, but I was amused that I had said such a thing. I honestly don't think God "owes" me anything. However, in my stress, I said the first words that popped into my head. What I meant was, "I've been through a lot in the past few years, would you please give me a little help here?" And He knew what I meant. He always knows.

Hey, this is just me, and I'm no theologian; but I remember that Jesus said if we want to be his disciple, we will take up our cross and follow Him, and I'm starting to think the most important part of that equation is the 'following' thing, the turning to Him, even if we are sad or mad or confused, even if we're embarrassed because, shoot, we've been forgetting to turn to Him; somehow, we keep thinking we can carry those darn crosses all by ourselves. But you know...maybe a little help would be nice.

Thank you, God, for helping us to bear the sufferings of this world, and for often bringing us joy and humor in the midst of them.

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