Every follower of Jesus is daily faced with a decision to either acknowledge the cross or embrace the cross. To the world, it sounds like foolishness. To the religious it sounds like an exceptionally spiritual thing to do. But those who know Jesus and Him crucified understand that it is no light thing to wrap your arms around your coffin and carry it.
I remember my wedding day when I stood in a spotless white gown. For over a year I had planned and counted down the days until I could take a new name and get forever started. Cameras flashed, I said my vows, I serenaded my groom and I laughed with pure joy as he carried me across the thresh hold into the hotel room that night. Less than ten years later, I held our wedding picture in my trembling hands and buried it. My marriage was over. Just like that.
Scripture promises many wonderful things like healing and restoration and various kinds of blessings. We are promised eternal hope and abundant life.
But then the bank forecloses.
But then our spouse walks out the door.
But then our boss makes cutbacks.
But then the doctor walks into the room.
But then we are picking out a casket.
We ask why. We question if God is real now. We beat ourselves up for not being better. We doubt love. We bitterly weep.
Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to be His followers, they would have to deny themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Him. As children of God, He says the same to each of us. And that's hard. I want to be His follower but I would rather give the cross a sideways glance and talk about what an honor it is to suffer with Jesus than wrap my arms around its splintered wood and carry it upon my weary back. When the truth of what was asked of me really sank into my heart, I agonized. If I'm being honest, I still agonize. I find myself pushing and resisting and expressing all the frustrations in my heart.
But God, my DREAM was to be a wife and mother. My DREAM was to grow old with the man I vowed to love. My DREAM was to welcome our grandchildren to the home we built and serve ice tea on the porch.
God, my DREAM was not THIS life. My DREAM was NOT to be a divorced, single mom. My DREAM was to have an easier life, a less messy life.
You have dreams. Your dream is to land that position. Your dream is to get married. Your dream is to have a child. Your dream is to climb the ladder. Your dream is to travel the world. Your dream is to work for yourself. Your dream is to do this and that.
Your dream....your dream....
Dream after dream, nail after nail, it's all painfully beaten into wood as you cry and scream and ache and shed blood and tears. That's what we all do when our kingdom is put to death because we are people whose eyes are fixed on the temporal more than the eternal. That's why our flesh resists the nails and the death of all the things we want. But here is something to consider: With every dream that hangs from the arms of the cross, a new and better dream is waiting for you.
Jesus was nailed to a cross and, as He hung there, the hopes and dreams of many died. Even after all He had taught His disciples, they still had their eyes fixated on the death before them rather than the resurrection to come. In the hours of dark silence that followed the crucifixion of Jesus, many despaired and questioned all the promises of freedom from the Judaic law that had been made to them. What they saw was their hope nailed to a wooden tree, cursed and dying. What they did not see was the sweet aroma of atonement being accepted by Heaven that would bridge the gap between man and God.
Three days later, the One whom they thought they would never have again rose from the grave and everything, everything changed for the better. The nails that they thought meant the ruin of their future brought redemption for the whole world.
It hurts when your dreams are punctured and crucified. If you're like me, you lift your eyes to the sky and maybe raise your voice and yell. But may you and I not count our dreams more valuable than following Christ! He is the Giver of dreams and with amazing mercy and love, He asks us to cling to our cross and follow as we wait for the Resurrection day when the glory of God's dreams for us shine brighter than any dream we once held dear.