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The Unabandoned Cross

One of my favorite books is “The Cost of Discipleship” written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s been a while, but while recently musing the calling of God I read the following passage:
. . . Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
     On two separate occasions Peter received the call, “Follow me.” It was the first and last word Jesus spoke to his disciple (Mark 1.17; John 21.22). A whole life lies between these two calls. The first occasion was by the lake of Gennesareth, when Peter left his nets and his craft and followed Jesus at his word. The second occasion is when the Risen Lord finds him back again at his old trade. Once again it is by the lake of Gennesareth, and once again the call is: “Follow me.” Between the two calls lay a whole life of discipleship in the following of Christ. Half-way between them comes Peter’s confession, when he acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God. ~ The Cost of Discipleship, Costly Grace

He who is called the Man of Sorrows had a calling of His own.



     So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!…”
Yoked by Grace
    Why did Jesus come?
  •      To preach good news to those in need of good news.
  •      To proclaim sight for those who cannot see.
  •      To give liberty to the oppressed ~ not argue with them about their oppression.
  •      To heal  broken hearts, not condemn them.
  •      To heal broken hearts, not try to convince them why their pain is invalid.
  •      To set captives free with no agenda other than freedom ~ “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1, NIV) Why does Paul warn the Galatians to stand firm? Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; but the idolatrous yoke of slavery entices many away from the grace-yoke of our tender Shepherd.
  •      Last but not least, He came, obediently, to the cross.
     “Follow Me,” He says. And He warned us of the cost.

My Hiding Place 

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”  
Take up his cross. Not another’s. I wonder if Jesus remembered these words while He bled and others taunted “…save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Sometimes I think about this. I could abandon my calling and yes, life might be easier. I could save my emotional life, attempt to save myself from continued heartache.  I could walk away and hammer another nail into His gentle hand, scorn the humble Man who said to me, “Come.”
     But I want to share one of the reasons why I can’t. The following article was originally published as a guest post on Madabella.
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Coffee’s rumble draws me awake. I can hear it beyond the door, waiting, steaming and fresh, for eager cups. I stretch my arms, blink in the sun. It is morning now—morning, when mercies are new. Even as a little girl, I need new mercy like mommy needs her coffee.
     Although I don’t know what it is, exactly, I think about it sometimes when I run down the hill, run away to my sanctuary. It nestles, my nook under the trees, cozy and waiting, warm and soft from summer. It’s important to have a place when you’re little, you know, a spot all your own where you can curl up and let the forest murmur against your cheeks. A place where you can think about things—deep things, the mysteries of life and pain—while the zephyr wraps you up in sheets and the sun tucks you in.
     They say mercies are new in the morning. I don’t know about that. I don’t know mercy but I do know hell, and it lurks in the shadows of dawn and noon and night. It haunts me when I’m seven and seventeen and twenty-seven, clutching at my heels, waiting for me to fall. It pricks me when I fail, a thousand times, to be the gentle sister, the pleasing daughter, the loving woman God wants me to be. It suffocates me as I plan my death, and I can see it, see hell waiting, and I stay alive and afraid for another morning. A thousand haunted mornings.
     Coffee’s edge draws me awake and I savor its warmth on my tongue. Somewhere King David prays, You are my hiding place.” (Ps. 32:7a) It lingers, misty, elusive, reverent and introspective. I read it to the trees when I was young, curled up in my hollow. The echoes come back, rippling through years, chasing me as I weep and run, gathering other echoes and washing them over me, flinging them like delicate scarves around my shoulders and drawing me back—“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty . . . He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge . . . Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Ps. 91)
     And like the dawn of a newborn sun, I understand: I spent all my life running after refuge, and yet every moment, Refuge was running after me.
     My dwelling place came seeking me.
     “Abide in me,” He murmurs tenderly. “Abide under My shadow.” Why am I so accustomed to viewing His tender summons as orders and duties? Why else would the Most High invite me to abide, except for my own protection and comfort?
     It is morning again and His mercies are new—but I’ve discovered a secret about mercy. I still feel little-girl-small, sometimes, but all will be okay, because mercy knows that it’s always morning somewhere in the world. And it flows, steady and warm, from He who remains unchanged; mercy, it drapes across my shoulders, gentle and light, the healing yoke of the Merciful One. I think perhaps we must risk all to find this truth; we must be willing to sacrifice our sons to see that He provides the lamb. Otherwise how will we know? How will we know He loves us?
     And so from the safety of the shadows, gathered close, tucked into the Father of mercy, I watch night settle on the earth.
     And I crawl deeper into my Hiding Place.
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Mercy is Shown
     When we have tasted Living Water from the One who is our Refuge and Help, how can we settle for any less? My sanctuary came after me! I have been shown mercy. I have been given life. And when He asks me to follow, when He looks at me with love and says Come, deny yourself and take up your cross, how can I say no? The scenery may change from time to time; sometimes He might lift the cross for me.  Someday, perhaps, He will give me a different one. My encouragement for all who read these words is to rejoice in your cross! It is tailored to you alone. When you walk in obedience, you follow the One who became obedient even unto death and are in fellowship with Him. It doesn’t matter if I (or anyone else) disagree with you or if no one in the whole world supports your mission ~ if you listen to the Spirit and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, He is the only One who matters.

Acts 5:37-39

“After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

     Jesus didn’t abandon the cross. Through His grace and help, I won’t leave mine. It is my privilege to join Him in His ministry.

 “…Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
     So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. ~ From Luke 4
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.   
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

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4 comments:

  1. I am always blown away by the grace you show through all you've been through and through all the "fiery darts of the wicked" that are recently being thrown at you. You are an inspiration of grace in action to me. Keep fighting the good fight!

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  2. Beautiful post, deep calls unto deep. Love you, girl!

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  3. Beautiful response, Hillary. "It is for freedom…" Yes, yes, yes. Sending love your way.

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