" Our Lord's words "whoever wishes to be My follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day and follow in My steps" (Luke 9:23) were spoken for men of all times and localities. They are equally applicable to the young, to the middle aged and to the elderly. They are a challenge to modern man---so surrounded by the comforts and the conveiniences of modern inventions--who takes all these things for granted and, becoming immersed in the material, often forgets his eternal destiny." (Foreword from: The Imitation of Christ by: Thomas à Kempis )
It is easy to look upon this Scripture verse from St. Luke and potentially graze past it without much thought. However, it is in this very verse where one can find a wealth of knowledge, consolation, and finally, if willing a sense of humility. Modernly speaking you and I may not be called to carry a Cross like that of Jesus. We can not read this and fully fathom the pain, sweat, shame, and the interior battles that Jesus would have experienced while carrying His Cross. It is evident though in further reading and understanding, that these words were truly spoken "for men of all times and localities". If this statement is true, which I believe it to be..how then can one living in our modern times and in these diverse localities relate to these words that we find in Luke? If we can not fathom the pains and experiences of Jesus at the Cross, what is it that we know for sure?
Well, if I may suggest we know the pains and toils of our own human experiences. We come to understand the relevance in these words when we begin to recognize the agonies and circumstances that often plague us as our own Crosses. It is often difficult in the state of modern comforts and conveniences to take into account the presence of the Cross. However, in saying this it is also important to understand that the Cross does not discriminate. We will each face conditions that are uncomfortable and times that may seem unbearable. We will face loss, illness, potential unemployment, and the death of loved ones. I do not write to seem dark and mundane, but rather to bring understanding and clarity of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.
Even amidst today's modern times the same sentiments spoken in Luke are also spoken to us. The comfort and consolation in this verse comes from the understanding of the Eternal destiny and promise. If we lose sight of this promise how can we ever find hope and joy through our "Cross bearing"? As believers in Him we carry our crosses and face life's adversities like everyone else. There is not some "quick remedy" on an earthly level that can help us avoid this reality. But, through faith we are not alone in these times of trial and cross bearing. We must acknowledge the instability of our modern comforts and conveniences. As our foundations are shaken and we are faced with circumstances that seem unbearable, let us look upon them as reminders from our Lord...that we are not in control and that He is calling us deeper to continue to walk with Him, to take up our crosses each day and follow in His foot steps.
Lord today I pray that despite our modern comforts we do not forget and lose sight of our constant need for You. Let us remember that even though we may prosper materialistically, through study, and in our workplaces, Your kingdom does not judge our worldly wealth, but rather on how well we have followed in Your footsteps. Let us recognize our temporary sufferings as our crosses in this life. May we seek to always find true joy through You. Lord please protect your children wherever they may be and aid them in carrying their crosses daily. Keep watch Lord over those who have yet to know You, for You know each of them and love them. Thank you Lord for the many blessings You have bestowed upon each of us and for continuing to reveal Yourself daily in our hearts, minds, and souls. Finally Lord, "Thank You for the Cross". Amen (C.C.)