Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
~ John 5:8-9
This morning I woke up feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. It's a feeling that I don't like, but in this case, it has to do with my own decisions. It's not often that this happens, but the reality of the day is upon me. I know that I will be okay. It's just that I have an idea of how I "hope" things will turn out, but in the back of my mind, I am already having doubts.
I think we have all had this encounter with life. When doubt seems to sit in the corner of the room, and begins to whisper, "No you can't." It's amazing how one little thought can begin to grow into something that leaves us second-guessing ourselves.
It's times like these that I think about what is most important about the things that I am feeling, experiencing, or need to act upon. It's as if I am trying to "self-triage" my life!
Jesus says: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him ... take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). He does not say: "Look for a cross" or "Make a cross."
There really is no need to search for a cross or to design one for ourselves. We all have our own cross to bear already, and it exists in a way that it is hard for us to carry. Jesus is asking us if we are willing to reach down, accept what is before us, to have the energy to lift it up, and to carry it.
Crosses take many forms. Whether it is self-doubt or depression. Maybe it has to do with our job or something in your family that has added stress to your life. Maybe you have have been the victim of a crime or been bullied. Maybe it is a struggle to make a choice about something or when you can't seem to move beyond something that has happened to you. Maybe it is something that you do that continually sabotages your own self.
Much of what we are asked to carry has nothing to do with us. It was not something that we wanted in our life. Maybe it is something that we hate, or reject, but exists and we cannot ignore it.
Jesus invites us to carry them alongside him.
I must admit, I still struggle at times to understand how it is that this is to make things better?
What does happen, is that somewhere along the way, Jesus invites us to exchange the weight of his cross for ours. In the darkness of the night, praying for answers, Jesus speaks to us and says, "So, let me take it from you for a while."
Like so many things that happen to us in our life, when we look at them from a distance, we can suddenly begin to move forward. There is something about distance that allows us to see things for what they are. When the weight of the situation is no longer ours to carry, we can suddenly stand again.
I am reminded of the day the paralyzed man was lowered through the ceiling by four friends, and Jesus stares at the paralyzed man and commands that he, "Take up his mat and walk."
The very thing that once held the man, he now carries it.
It is what we are invited to do each day.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.