I was just done cooking dinner last night when my husband called me. “Can you come help me finish this section of the fencing project?” Always a man with a mission, I knew how much it would mean to him to have his goals met by evening.
The path through the woods was rough, with rocks and tree limbs marring the path. We placed some fence posts, pushing dirt into the augered holes. I thought we were finished then, and I was quite happy with the thought of being done tripping, but he said, “Okay, if you can just wait a couple minutes, I want to take this pile of posts back.” He hefted a 10-foot post onto his shoulder and went marching back into the woods.
Of course I couldn’t leave him to carry the entire pile of posts himself. So I gingerly picked one up, rested it on my shoulder, and followed him.
The posts weren’t too heavy. 50-60 pounds, I would guess. But when you’re carrying them a little ways, they get awfully awkward and clumsy.
“Mama,” my daughter said, walking behind me, “don’t you want to go home?”
Yes, I did. But the job had to be done, so I just had to keep doing it.
This morning I read in Matthew 16, where Jesus says,
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
And I couldn’t help but think about carrying those fence posts down the path, with the wood scratching my neck, and the weight tipping me backward when I didn’t have it balanced just right. I couldn’t help but think about the way it was easy to swing the first one up, but by the last one, my muscles were screaming at me.
Jesus knew all about carrying a cross.
He knew about the moments when you just want to quit. And He knew about the future glory that can only be found when you keep going through everything painful and terrible and trying.
Of course He knew. Which is why he went on to say,
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
I carried those fence posts with the hope of someday seeing a beautiful straight fence, keeping red Angus cattle inside the boundaries of the farm. But this greater weight that I carry? This need to surrender and live in humble grace through all of life’s trials? This is for something infinitely more wonderful.
For nothing can be as glorious as giving up my-will here, that I might find true-life with Christ.
So when the trials get heavy and awkward and clumsy, I want to remember Emmanuel’s admonition to take up my cross and keep walking– one step in front of the other– eyes fixed on the prize.