They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:7
One of my favorite verses from one of my favorite Psalms, this reminds me my strength is found in God. I find this reserve of strength, though limitless and always accessible, in my life it is more like the gas tank of my car. I wish at this point I had discovered how to be tapped into God’s power at all times. Instead, the gauge fluctuates, lowering to the point of fumes sometimes before I heed the red glow light flashing on my dash.
This is who we are, not irresponsible or reckless, just a people with our hearts set on pilgrimage, passing sometimes through “the Valley of Baca,” the valley of the depth of tears and weeping.
We have been asked to deny ourselves, this the supremely impossible task of self-forgetfulness. To deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. In the room, in the house, in the job, in the relationships, in our successes and our failures, in the very place we stand this moment, this is where we lift our cross and stand.
To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. Bonhoeffer
Because I struggle so mightily with self-denial, I often grade the day’s test of endurance, and if it has had any conflict I mark through each failed effort with a thin red line. But at the cross of Christ, red lines are his victory, and I am reminded my life is saved because I have chosen to follow him.
I may fight the weight of the cross.
I may cry out against it’s unfairness.
I may crumble beneath it’s weight.
I may flail and wail and forget I am not alone.
But Christian perfection does not demand I accept the cross in silence, with model behavior. Before the cross, I am allowed to be fully human. I am allowed to let God be God. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you.” (vs. 5)
On the cross, leadership dies. On the cross, success dies. On the cross, skills die, and excellence dies. All of my strengths – nailed to the cross. All of my weaknesses – nailed to the cross. All of my yearnings for bigger and better, for anything other than Christ himself – nailed to that same cross. Leonard Sweet
“O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” (vs. 12)