The Challenge of the Cross
As we pass through the valley of tears, crosses nail themselves to us including the worst of crosses, death. None escape. Furthermore, our crosses are platform agnostic. They attack us no matter our religious affiliations. They do not discriminate. They do not spare favorites.
What strategy is the best strategy to handle the challenge of the Cross?
Our attitude toward our crosses is different than God's. We want God to eliminate our crosses for us. God, however, does not agree (Isaiah 55:8-9). God wants us to pick up and carry our crosses (Matthew 16:24). We derive no benefit from the eliminatiion of our crosses. The benefit comes from picking up and carrying our crosses not from eliminating them.
The good news of great joy is that Heaven dispatched the Son of God to earth to teach us how to pick up and carry our crosses (Matthew 16:24). God the Father gave God the Son two assignments:
- to transport the strategy best suited to handle the challenge of the cross and
- to demonstrate that the strategy works by using it himself.
Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe.
The strategy best suited to handle the challenge of the cross is to love. We must love our way through the valley of tears.
God wants us to grab hold of the life preserver of love, cling to it, hold tight and refuse to let go - to cling to it with the iron grip of a drowning man tossed overboard into the stormy sea after his ship is sunk.
However, beasts are ruled by instinct. Our instinct instructs us to let love slip through our fingers when crosses nail themselves to us. We struggle mightily against grabbing hold of the life preserver of love. We rebel against our own salvation. We would rather drown than rescue ourselves.
So we must deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24). Survival requires that we act contrary to our animal instinct. Survival requires that we disregard the instructions that our animal instinct is sending to us. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God. When we let our crosses strip us of love, they strip us of any resemblance that we bear to God. This is defeat. The victory is in denying ourselves. The victory is in resistance. The victory is in defiance. The victory is in refusing. The victory is in telling our crosses to go f#@% themselves. The victory is in grabbing the life preserver of love, clinging to it, holding tight and refusing to let go.