The cross I least want to pick up is the very cross Jesus points to when He says, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” I dangle my plastic Good Christian award, hoping he’ll forget all about crosses. When that fails, I try diverting His attention to crosses that match my shoes and purse, something fashionable. I prefer even the cross of circumstantial hardship-well, to a point, especially if it advertises somebody else’s sin. Yet the cross He casts His shadow upon, the one He stand over with stalwart patience, is the gnarly, knotted, crooked and unfinished cross of despicable me. Who I am, my personality and character-this is the cross I must pick up and own as a public service announcement of SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.
In my defense, I’ve tried to fix this. I told Him, “Lord, this is really bad press. I’m created in Your image. My suggestion of a sterling creation, had I been asked, would be to go a little lighter on the Scarlet-from Gone With the Wind- and a lot heavier on the Melanie. I mean-look at me. This is so embarrassing I could just DIE. ”
All I get is silence. Apparently, God hasn’t seen the movie.
If I was not interested in following Christ, I’d bury my cross. I’d uncork a jug of cheap wine and drown my failures in water-logged dreams. Well, we Christians may avoid anesthetics (emphasis on may), but we have our socially acceptable schemes. We’re great exterior decorators. There’s much less squirm factor in hiding behind a Snow-White mask, then actually being white as snow. We cover our crosses with bright blinking smiles and shiny baubles of Christian duty, clinking and clanging like psychedelic Christmas trees, not realizing we could find ourselves tossed to the curb at season’s end.
The problem is, all my Save-the-Self campaigns make the weight of my cross unbearable. Denial is substantially heavier than the cross itself. And, did I mention? It’s NOT REAL.
So I pick it up and follow Him. Amazingly, once I take the necessary steps, I’m less focused on me and my cross. Traveling in a group lightens the load. At times, Jesus cuts long planks from the worst of my cross. He’s building a monument from repurposed wood. A monument to GRACE ALONE. A beautiful thing. Imagine that. From the cross of despicable me.