You’ve heard the phrase… “crosses to bear.”
You know-- little daily disappointments or huge past regrets that we just can’t seem to let go of. Decisions gone bad either by us or for us. Personal shortcomings, losses, disadvantages… physical, financial or emotional.
Yep, I’ve got some.
They infiltrate our hearts and minds as unwelcomed, uninvited guests… squatters… and we are powerless to evict them from the premises. They consume us with great deliberation… arousing any of the many negative emotions… discontentment, anger, pride and bitterness.
Relentlessly they follow us around, clouding our view of what is truly most important… our relationship with God.
Fact: We cannot truly know God when our hearts and souls are caught up in the crosses and losses of our lives.
Paul tells us
“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.”
--Philippians 3: 7-10 NIV
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.”
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, my losses are little and insignificant—nothing, compared to what I gain in Christ—everything.
So much time is spent thinking about all the “what-ifs in life.” We blame ourselves, others and even God for not having the life we dreamed… forgetting what we actually deserve: nothing.
Last, we have the choice to either dwell on what is lost over what is gained. And, what an important choice this is! We can only get so far in our journey of loving and knowing God if we make the wrong one.
I want freedom from the chains of losses to gain intimacy with God. When I look at it like this it’s an easy, no-questions-asked choice, right?!
Ah, but old habits do die hard. Habits like these are embedded into our flesh and they will never go away completely. However, if they are consistently managed 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.