A coworker of mine, told the story a couple weeks ago of a telephone conversation gone awry. At the end of the conversation, with nothing resolved, the gal on the end says, “Happy Easter, Merry Christmas or whatever,” before hanging up the telephone. We laughed a little, At least she knows something is coming. It was Thanksgiving, the following week. A reminder that this is quite a busy time of year for multiple reasons, however, let us not forget the ultimate reason for the season.
I don’t know what it is about the holiday season, but I cannot think about the birth of Christ without thinking of the reason why He came. I know we’ll have our opportunity to reflect upon His life, death, resurrection, and ascension here soon. However, I cannot think about the birth of my Savior without thinking of His death. Perhaps this is because the greatest gift He gave to us was His life. I am so grateful for His birth, I celebrate it joy. Yet, I reflect upon, and give thanks for His life – the lessons He taught, His journey to the cross, the cross, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. All are pivotal parts of the story. I simply cannot focus on one, leaving out another.
Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When I think about the journey Jesus took to the cross, I am always moved to tears. It was a long, painful journey. But then, it was a purposeful journey, for He bore the sins of all men. That’s some weight! I have wondered, as of late, for the multitudes that were there as He fed the 5,000 or that saw the miracles, or were personally healed, delivered… How many of them called for His crucifixion? How many turned against. This was surely all part of the process, but for the flesh in Him, didn’t it hurt? Friends one day, enemies the next, we all know that feeling… It is true, the statement that He felt everything we will ever feel, on the cross… Abandonment, rejection, betrayal. I know He had to endure all of these things – He was innocent, He who knew no sin, bore all sins, suffered and died. It had to be done, I know this, there was a purpose to the cross – all my sins are nailed there. However, it stills moves me, to think of my Savior beaten, bruised, humiliated, nailed to a cross. He traded His throne for flesh, to suffer the cross, for all men – for me. Now, He is yet again clothed in majesty. I cannot help but give Him thanks.
James 1:12 KJV “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
We go through things in life. I look at temptations in the first scripture to include not only those things that attract us to do something unwise, but also those trials in our lives – aren’t both designed to ultimately lead us astray? When we make it through – on the other side – we are promised a “crown of life.” We know this to be everlasting life with Him. It’s easy to run from trials, temptations – probably easier to cave. But, I have learned, with trials, you must endure them, face them directly, they don’t go away. If you try to run, you may escape, for a season, but it will be that much more difficult the next time. Believe me, there will be a next time.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
I teach my children life lessons, as I learn and from my own experiences. I like to think of myself as an open book, nothing to hide. I am proud of where the Lord has brought me, I may not fully know where He’s taking me, but He’s never let me down, neither has He left me to learn on my own. In any case, as I have stated in previous posts, this year has been tough on my kiddos! Middle School. This morning we were chatting about each of us having our own cross to carry… And what joy to relate to them that we are never alone. He takes our pain, our shame, our heartache – all of it – it was never ours to carry. We give it all to Him and take His yoke instead. Isn’t His much lighter?! We stop trying to figure things out for ourselves. Stop trying to fight our own battles. We have a Father in heaven who already won those battles, we have only to endure the process. Then, at the end of it all, we will receive a crown of life. That is His promise! They weren’t as enthusiastic as I was at 6:45am this morning, haha! But, what a joy to know His promises are true! What a privilege to rest in His loving arms, the One who died for us, the One who promised us a crown of righteousness, we have only to endure. Sometimes the cross gets heavy. But we press on. We never give up. We never give in. We endure until the end.