The cross that Jesus died on is a rich symbol of Christianity. First, it represents how Jesus died for us and then was not held by death, but rose, resurrected into new life. So there is life after death for us, too, symbolized by the cross. That means that each time we face death of a sort–our own dying, a loss or death of something or someone precious to us, or even minor inconvenieces, there will be a new life waiting for us after we grieve that loss. Life. Death. Resurrection and new life is always there for us, modeled by Jesus.
After praying to be released from His fate in Gethsemane, Jesus faced His death on the cross, with determination, surrendered to His Father’s will. And so, He models for us how we should face our own little and big deaths in our lifetime with surrender and determination to do our Father’s will. Actually, as we practice this on the little deaths that we experience, like our plans gone awry, or too much traffic which slows us down, or we can’t get what we want—all these little deaths need to be surrendered to, too. The one huge lesson I have learned in my life, following Jesus is that any resistance that I have to what is happening in my life only increases my suffering. The more I am willing to face and carry on with whatever is happening, big or small, means that I suffer so much less than before.
If we practice that surrender on the small things in life that don’t go our way, then when a virtual tsunami hits us, like a spouse’s death, it becomes just one more thing to surrender to. Not that we don’t grieve, but we don’t resent or resist what is real and true in our lives.
Above all, the cross means that Jesus surrendered to His fate and so do we to ours.
A second meaning of the cross is that it represents the two realms we live in: the vertical beam represents God’s realm and the cross beam, the world. We live at the meeting of those two beams, in both worlds if we’re aware of both. So, we who are so at home in the world and its ways, especially the ways of our native countries, have a choice as to which realm will rule us, heaven or earth. As long as we are in these human bodies, we live in this dichotomy, but we always have the choice as to whether we’ll kneel at the foot of the cross and obey God or we’ll ignore God and live like the world wants us to.
Life. Death. Change. Transition. Our lives are full of each. Every year nature shows us how to live in those changes.: a third meaning of the cross. It’s the seasonal cycle: death/ unseen growth/new leaves and blossoms/ finally bearing fruit in the summer. And then it starts all over again the next fall. The trees and plants don’t die, they lose their leaves and blossoms and fruit, then spend some time looking dead, all the while getting ready for the spring and new displays of the same products again. We also live through similar seasons, when life is beginning again and blossoming, producing fruit and then something changes and whatever went before dies off and we find ourselves in a new season with new challenges to get used to and to overcome. Life/death/resurrection is the nature of our lives.
What if, in one of the cycles, we truly give up the world’s ways and become those who live by the fruit of the Spirit, who have come to express that grace in their lives? We live then by love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We will have given up, been healed from, the world’s ways of competition, avarice, envy and me-first. The great difference between the world’s ways and God’s ways comes from trusting in God to provide all that we need—physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, so that we don’t need to act any longer out of our ego’s needs.
The cross represents this change, too. From living on the cross-beam to living the vertical beam. From the world to God. From a human to a devotee of God. What a change it would make in this world if many more of us lived the ways of Jesus, the ways of the cross, the ways of God.
Questions to ponder over the week: What is the extent of my devotion to things above, to Jesus Christ to God in my life? Knowing how imperfect we humans are, how would I rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being 100% devoted? Have I set my intention, my whole life on commitment, surrender, faithfulness? What do I do when I waiver? When I start doing things the way I do them, forgetting God in the process? Am I even aware of the extent that I live on my own terms?[Just ponder the questions that seem important to you.]
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have devoted themselves, heart, soul, mind and body to loving God. May we be as faithful as can be, but when we fail, may we turn right back to Him.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 11.15.19s is entitled, “A Process for Loving Yourself as Jesus Taught.”
 Galatians 5:22-23