I Grow Under the Load

As we recall Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on his way to the ironic reversals of betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial and three days later, resurrection, we are reminded of our own call to the cross.

A helpful reflection on our own cross-bearing comes from a lesser known minister named Alexander Smellie. His comical looking last name was actually pronounced ‘Smiley’. Reflecting on the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mark 8.34), Smellie wrote:

I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may require to go on cultivating, year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may need to ask forgiveness of a brother whom I have wronged. I may be bidden cherish kind and loving thoughts about a brother who was wronged me -- be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succour. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to be reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to "move among my race and show a glorious morning face," when my heart is breaking within me.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord.

But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit. He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing. And then, as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round, Sub pondere cresco -- I grow under the load.

Even though we have crosses to bear, may we be eager to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, sharing with them the way that the cross of Christ pays our debts, liberates us from bondage, celebrates over the Enemy, propitiates for our sin, and symbolizes our union with Jesus, the One who loves us unconditionally. And in this bearing and sharing, may we grow under the load.