Back to the Cross began as a journey of discovering on a deeper level what it means to follow Jesus.
For us that discovery took a definite shape while living in Shanghai, China, with our two boys. We got to enjoy our boys at an age when they were still young but beginning to explore the world. Both of them were in elementary or primary school, the youngest one just getting started in fact.
Three years later after returning from China we don’t have elementary students any more. One boy is entering high school and the other is in middle school (secondary). As parents of teenagers, back to the cross has taken on new meaning and challenges for us.
When Jesus went to the cross, he made a huge sacrifice for all of us. He chose to put his own individual wants and comfort aside and do something truly life-changiing for us. What we are learning is that serving people as a Christ-follower also requires sacrifice. Living in America, it would be so much easier to invest in our own comfort, to pour effort and give attention to fulfilling our own dreams. Getting back to the cross, though, calls all of that into question.
We’re also discovering that parenting teens also calls a lot of things into question. How dedicated are we to helping our children become Christ-followers with their own faith? To what lengths will we go to teach a crucial lesson or to demonstrate true love for our kids? Honestly, some days I’m willing to go further and other days I grumble about the unfairness embedded in the assignment. At these times, getting back to the cross isn’t glamorous or heroic. It feels hard.
When Jesus had been scourged, tried and convicted and was marching to Golgotha, I don’t think he felt heroic or was enjoying the attention of the crowds of people in Jerusalem. It was lonely. This was one hard assignment.
If you are following Jesus, it will feel this way at times. Perhaps much of the time. There is another side to this, though. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus was able to find joy in the prospect of his journey to the cross, he was able to look beyond the suffering and the shame of the cross and embrace God’s will and plan.
Before dismissing this as something only Jesus, the Son of God, could perform, consider also Saul, the one-time persecutor of the church, who became Paul the apostle of the Christian faith. Not only did he find joy in his imprisonment as he got back to the cross, but he urged fellow regular Christians to do the same. Philippians 4:4-7 commands us to rejoice in the Lord, in everything to drop anxiety and to pray and ask God and give thanks for his sure answer and reassuring presence. Go to the Scripture and read it for yourself. Better yet, pray it out loud and into the areas of your life that are hard and difficult right now. Getting back to the cross is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be grim. Let God pour joy into your journey.