Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
In the final quiet moment of April 2, 2015, I made a confession to my husband…
“I had no idea what I was asking for…but it was worth it”
Last Thursday night, as we laid in bed and lightening flashed outside, I tried to wrap my mind around all that had been accomplished that evening in the process of raising up a 20 foot tall, 500+ pound cross at the little church property. But five days later God is showing me how the work of last week has been happening through every story we’ve posted over the past two years through YOU. The cross that now stands next to the falling down abandoned church is the more stable, more secure, more sturdy symbol of The Grace Mask today. The church structure is falling down on itself. We may only be able to save the foundation. But the cross symbolizes a truth that the Church must cling to, our confession of Christ IS the very thing we stand on. The church may look a mess, but its foundation is secure and Christ can build something beautiful on that foundation, that confession, that story. That’s why your story matters to Him and to all of us in the Church, your story strengthens the foundation of the Church and extends the reach of The Bride. Hell has no power over your story once you’ve handed the pen over to Jesus.
Matthew 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
On Thursday last week I was simply determined the cross would be standing up on Good Friday morning. My husband had some simple-sounding ideas on how to get it up, but we knew we would need help. The family that showed up Thursday to help was not who we expected, but they were perfectly placed by The Lord. Esther surrendered her heart to Jesus in that broken down little church building years ago when her father was the pastor. God used Facebook and The Grace Mask to bring us together early this year, one day you will hear her story. And then there was Ben, who had no idea what he was agreeing to when my 7th-grader asked him to come “help us raise the cross at our little church”. He pulled up on his motorcycle and was all-in until it was done. God will send unlikely people to help you tell your story. Remember, this is not just about you, this is their story too.
We were completely unprepared. We didn’t have enough people, we didn’t have the right tools, and none of us really had the strength to do the work. Storms were rolling in, darkness was falling and as we continued to push that massive dead tree up into the air we were all in a danger of being crushed under it if anyone lost his or her footing or grip. But ideas kept coming, strength kept coming, and somehow God helped us lift it up.
In a flurry of craziness the base fell into the hole and the top swung the other direction and began to fall back down the hill. I am pretty sure Ben and his angels caught it. The hole was too big and we had a decision to make. We either had to push it back and try to wedge it in, or let it fall and try again another day.
I was ready to give up and let go. But it’s for that very reason we MUST surround ourselves with people who believe the cross matters, people willing to hold it up or die trying. We need the people who heard us say, “God’s got this” when the whole thing was laying in pieces hidden in the woods, when it was dead, but you believed it could come to life. You need those people to remind you “God’s got this”, when you start to believe it’s all on you. We pushed it up straight, one of us shoved rocks and anything solid we could find into the hole around the base and then …
We let go.
And it stood on it’s own.
This blog is two years old. In that time we’ve come along side over 60 unique stories and raised them up. Many of you have been an enormous part of that for one or many of those stories. Because it’s hard to take up your cross on your own…. Sometimes we exchange the freedom Christ has given us and try to bear the weight of our past. We need people who will come along side us, lift that cross back up and shove the eternal Word of God into the void to make it stand up straight so we can let go.
Can you see it?
This life is dead. And it will stay dead, hidden away until it rots and becomes no more.
But Jesus came looking for us and He is determined to raise the broken, dead in sin, to life.
We dug a hole to escape, but He sees a platform. Because in His hands our mess is His Message.
He put those broken pieces together and is building His Church. Our failure is His victory. Heaven and Earth.
Two pieces become ONE, bound by Grace. This is The Cross. And everyone who sees it knows its message.
You all who have shared your story here and those of you who have been a part of the support network that makes sure this work continues are raising up the cross with every story. You have felt weak at times, unprepared, scared, unsure, and unworthy of declaring your faith. You felt the weight of it all and wondered if the whole thing might come crashing down on you in one form or another. But you have never been alone. Because when you said you were going to let go and let it fall, someone else reminded you that you only feel the weight of glory being raised up by God Himself. This is not ours, it’s HIS!
The Cross says, “God’s got this, by the blood of Jesus, God’s GOT this! ALL of it.”
We do nothing perfectly here friends, I mess up. I don’t say it all right, I don’t always get the right shots during photo sessions. I’m weak, unprepared, and scared and completely unworthy. But I know God’s got this.
The question I have to answer every day about my story and yours on this site is this…
If a million people stand up and criticize me loudly for this and only one person falls to her knees at the feet of Jesus in silent surrender, was it still worth it to take up my cross?
I had no idea what I was asking for…. but it was worth it.