Lord: “Dear child, the whole scheme is wrong. Ease and comfort, pleasure and honor are not the end of life, nor the essential to your true well-being. By the cross comes the crown. When John and James asked me for honors, I promised them a share in My bitter cup and My fiery baptism. I told your brethren before you that in this world they should have tribulation, but in Me they should find their consolation. I have called the weary and the burdened away from the promises of the world, to find pleasure in suffering with Me and for Me, ease in toil, joy in sorrow, songs in the prison. This is the mystery of the cross that offends the world, but should not offend such as you.
The Cross Selected
“Not my will, by Thine be done." It was with a heavy heart that the youth had taken the cross, which his Lord presented to him. Only the explicit declaration that whosoever refused to be a cross bearer could not be a disciple had caused him to receive it at all.
Instead of pursuing his way with cheerfulness, his step was slow, his look downcast, and a sigh escaped from his lips. “I wish to be a Christian; I wish to be saved, the young pilgrim thought. Is there no way to attain this but by the painful one of self-denial and self-crucifixion? I know I must repent of my sins and rely on my Savior and His righteousness alone. This I have done.
But now I must take up my cross. And this cross too! How heavy it is! Why did He not give me a lighter one? One better suited to my age and circumstances in life, or to my taste and abilities? I would not disobey my Lord but surely I can be a cross bearer without struggling under a burden so heavy.
I will find myself a less painful cross.
I looked again and the disciple had gathered around him a large number of crosses of various sizes and styles. He had laid aside the cross that had been presented to him at first and was selecting one of the smallest of the group for himself.
Suddenly his Lord again stood by him, looking sorrowfully on the scene.
“Foolish child! I gave you your cross. It was prepared for you in the councils of heaven. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit sent it to aid in fitting you for your final home. Infinite Wisdom made the choice; Infinite Love approved it. And do you think to find a better cross by your own understanding?"
I observed that the man was speechless.
The Cross Lightened
The disciple humbled and penitent under his reproof again took the cross, which his Savior had given him. But though he dared to no longer refuse it, he shrank from its weight and its roughness.
He had not learned the true way to find relief is in bearing it patiently and faithfully. He knew not the grace, which strengthens the weary and is made perfect in weakness. Soon as before he began to take counsel of the flesh and seek a compromise with duty.
The cross, which had been assigned to him, he might not exchange for another. “I will obey," he said. “It will be my Lord's cross, and has He not promised me that His yoke shall be easy and His burden light?"
So I observed him lay the cross upon the ground, and with saw and plane seek to shorten and smooth it!
The Cross Worshiped
How patiently does the Master bear with the waywardness of His people! With what tenderness does he correct their mistakes, reprove their follies and teach them the path of obedience.
With gentle reproaches he had recalled his disciple from the vain endeavor to lighten or in any way alter the cross that He had presented. It was the cross as He gave it, which His disciple was to bear.
Oh, the weakness of the flesh and deceitfulness of the unsanctified heart seek to contrive
evasions of duty.
When I next saw him, he had set the cross upright, had wreathed it with a garland of flowers and was bowing low before it in the attitude of adoration!
“And is this," said Jesus, as again He drew near to the erring one, “ the service which I required of you? Your duty is to bear the cross, not to worship it. It is not decking it with flowers that the ornament of celestial purity is acquired. It is not by bowing the head, or bending the knee, that your spirit within is made lowly. The cross is given to you for the crucifixion of your sinful nature. It cannot effect this without pain. You must feel the burden, you must suffer with me, else you can have no part with me.
Rise, my child, from your posture of self-indulgence and take up your cross and bear it after me."