Monday, October 12, 2009

"Crosses to Bear" By: Heidi Avery

Do you have any “crosses to bear?”

You know, the little daily disappointments or huge past regrets that we just can’t seem to let go of. Bad decisions made either by us or made by someone for us that ended in unfortunate consequences. They could also come in the form of personal shortcomings, disadvantages…physical, financial or emotional.

I’ve got some. We all do, don’t we?

They are where the “if-onlys” that Kelli mentioned in her last blog are born. They are uninvited guests that attach themselves to our hearts and minds. Uninvited, yet we seem to be powerless to remove them from the premises. They slowly consume us filling us with any of the many negative emotions, such as discontentment, anger, pride and bitterness. Sadly they follow us around, clouding our view of what is truly most important. It’s not just our view that is affected though, our relationship with God is sacrificed. We can not truly know God when our hearts and souls are caught up in the crosses and losses of our lives.

Paul tells us in Philippians 3: 7-10 NIV “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

J.I. Packer in his book “Knowing God” states “When Paul says he counts the things he lost rubbish, or dung (KJV), he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly on his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.”

What can I say about that except that it is true?

First, to actually think that our losses are anything comparable to the “Cross” seems almost blasphemous to me. There is no loss that any one of us could experience that would hold a candle to what Christ endured on the cross for our sake.

Second, it is in new light that I see my losses as little and insignificant (nothing) compared to what I gain in Christ (everything). So much time is spent thinking about how life might have been better if the cards had fallen differently. We blame ourselves, others and even God for not having the life we dreamed… forgetting that we actually deserve nothing.

Last, we have the choice to either dwell on what is lost over what is gained and it’s an important choice. As Christians we can only get so far in our journey of loving and knowing God if we make the wrong one. It’s a maturity in our walk, a beautiful and freeing revelation, a place we should all end up if we really do want to know Him.

To be freed from the chains of losses to gain intimacy with God. When we see it like that it’s an easy, no questions asked choice, right? But, old habits do die hard. Habits like these are embedded into our flesh and they will never go completely away. However, they can be mortified, not in our strength of course, but by the Spirit within us.

J.I. Packer also poses the question… “Can we say, simply, honestly, not because we feel that as evangelicals we ought to, but because it is a plain matter of fact, that we have known God, and that because we have known God the unpleasantness we have had, or the pleasantness we have not had, through being Christians does not matter to us?”

I can’t, but I want to.

Father, like Paul I want to consider all things a loss compared to the gain that I have in Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. I praise you God for the new light you have shed on words I’ve read so many times. May your Spirit rise up and mortify the selfish deeds and thoughts of my flesh, so that I may truly know you.

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