A couple weekends ago I worked out in the garden. This time it wasn’t quite the fun of planting vegetables or pruning roses. I was removing landscape rocks, a task I had been dreading since I first viewed the house with my realtor. Upon walking out the back door during that first visit, I had three thoughts:
1) “Wow this yard is huge! I love it!”
2) “Wow this deck is fabulous! I love it!”
3) “Wow those rocks are hideous. They must go.”
Around the deck and around the gardening shed there were bright white rocks (which I’m told the previous owner bleached with care once a year!) covered at the edges with green mossy stuff. Throughout this past year their appearance declined even more as weeds grew up between the rocks. Each day I’d think, “I need to take those out” and finally this past weekend I began tackling the task.
But it was a big and laborious job. And I undertook it alone.
Not having a wheelbarrow (and not planning ahead to borrow one) I used an old file box. I’d fill it half way with rocks and haul it to the front side corner of the yard where I have some drainage and erosion issues. I quickly lost count of how many trips I made.
As the day wore on I got tired. Sometimes I’d just pause and stare at the half full box of rocks. Partly hoping it would move itself and partly entertaining the idea of just leaving it there indefinitely. I couldn’t make one more trip! Sometimes I’d consider dragging the box. I couldn’t fathom one more “bend with the knee” and lift. And sometimes I’d berate myself for not inviting a young, in-shape friend with upper body strength to assist in this crazy task.
Yet at the end of the long day, it was worth it. I can now sit on my patio and look across at pretty plants. Mission accomplished.
Yesterday a friend gave a beautiful, encouraging and challenging talk to our Confirmation class about discipleship. That night in prayer I kept going back to Mark 8:34: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The phrase “take up” stuck in my mind. It was as if God was saying to me over and over, “Sarah, take it up!”
We all have our own cross fit just for us. There are things I’ve struggled with all my life and over the years I have seen how God has fashioned this cross just for me. It is mine to carry. And yet some days I dread the task of “taking it up.”
Sitting there in the chapel, in the beautiful presence of our Lord, I thought of that hideous box of rocks. And it hit me.
Sometimes I kind of stand there and stare at my cross. Partly hoping it will carry itself and partly entertaining the idea of leaving it there indefinitely. Sometimes I consider (and try) dragging it. I can’t fathom one more “bend with the knee” and lift. And sometimes I bemoan the fact that there is no one else around that I can persuade to carry it for me. (Though, of course, God gives us friends to carry it with us.)
And yet the challenge of discipleship, of following Christ, is to “take it up”. A challenge we are not left to meet alone.
Today as we stand in the midst of Easter grace may we receive that grace that enables us to “take up” our cross. Quit staring at it. Quit dragging it. Quit trying to pawn it off on someone else.
It is yours to carry. “Take it up!”
Christ promises us that it is worth it. And someday we shall declare in heaven, “Mission accomplished!”