In my personal journey with the Lord, there are two things I love to embrace – continually growing in my intimacy with Him, and learning how to become more like Jesus each day. One cannot happen apart from the other, and both require living a life of intentionality. This journey I am on, and one I have gladly chosen, is a dangerous pursuit. It means abhorring and rejecting a life of apathy, of comfort and ease, and instead opening my arms to the fullness of Christ; not only the incredible joys, but also the suffering.
Embracing Jesus Means Embracing The Cross
I have been a Christian for almost 40 years. It’s probably superfluous to write how often, or how many times I have seen pictures of or sung about the Cross over the course of my life. As believers, the Cross is integral to everything we believe. Yet I wonder – how quickly does our symbol of faith begin to wane when we are faced with the discomfort and pain of surrender? Do we embrace it only when it is easy to do so?
A Cross-Centered Life
God has used every season of my life to draw me closer to Him. But I’ve realized His hand upon me in recent years has been less about a season and more about a lifestyle. It’s one in which I choose to live each day at the foot of the Cross. While the concept isn’t necessarily new to me, it has become more meaningful of late. He has graciously used the circumstances in my life to show me what it means to actively and consciously choose to live a life fully surrendered to Him. Am I willing to trust Him when I don’t understand His ways? Am I willing to give Him my dreams, my desires, and the things I hold most dear for the sake of His Kingdom, and to do so with joyful surrender?
There is something powerful that occurs when our suffering and pain brings us to the end of ourselves. We become keenly aware of our weaknesses. We realize how completely dependent we are upon Jesus to sustain us. The image of the Cross, the beautiful Cross, comes to the forefront of our vision. It is the ultimate picture of suffering and pain. The Journey of the Cross was one Jesus willingly walked so He could be in relationship with us. When I walk through times of suffering, my worship of Him becomes incredibly poignant in light of the price He paid for me.
The Paradox Of The Cross
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Life is resurrected from death. Joy and hope rise from the ashes. And beauty is birthed when we are sweetly broken before Him. For me, the sweetness of His Presence and kindness to me in these times leaves me undone. It’s the ultimate paradox. My willingness to be broken before Him opens the door for me to encounter His Presence and love to a depth I couldn’t experience any other way. I love the chorus in Jeremy Riddle’s song Sweetly Broken:
At the Cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.
If I have learned anything about myself in this journey with Christ, it is simply this: that no other option for me exists but to pursue Him and His kingdom in total abandonment. It is a joy to give Him my life because what He gives in return is so much greater. And that is a life worth living.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20