Echoes From the Campfire

In the eternal strife to keep alive on the desert a man who conquered must have assimilated something of the terrible nature of the stinging cholla cactus, and the hard, grasping tenacity of the mesquite roots, and the ferocity of the wildcat, and the cruelty of the hawk—something of the nature of all that survived.  It was a law.  It forced man to mete out violence in advance of that meant for him.”
              –Zane Grey  (Wanderer of the Wasteland)

    “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
              –1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)
I have not seen Bill Wilson in years now, but we used to correspond, and he came several times to minister at our church.  Once in conversation, I told him, “Bill, I couldn’t do what you do with the children in Brooklyn.”  He replied, “You could, if you were called to do it.”  There is one thing that all Christians have in common and that is a cross.  Besides the cross of Jesus Christ, we must also pick up our own cross.  All Christians will bear a cross, but it will be peculiar to the person.  It could be mental, physical, emotion, or spiritual or a mixture of those.

         “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'”
                   –Luke 9:23 (NKJV)

    First, Jesus says to “deny himself.”  This is a radical decision for once we decide to follow Jesus things will never be the same.  Denying ourselves means that we no longer know ourselves.  The self does not exist.  We are to deny what we want, our pleasures and desires, and follow the Lord doing what He wishes for us to do.  Someone has said that we are not to “indulge ease and appetite, for then it will be hard to bear toil, weariness, and want.”
    Second, we must take up our cross.  You must be willing; you must pick it up for it will not be thrust upon you.  One you have it across your shoulders don’t be murmuring, complaining, and whining that you are carrying a cross.  Remember, you willingly picked it up.  Don’t covet or be jealous of the cross that someone else has to bear, the Lord knows what you need and what you can handle.  So as you walk with that cross on your shoulders, do it as unto the Lord, keep the proper attitude.
    What kind of cross will it be?  That is not known until you pick it up.  Barclay said, “To take up our cross means to be prepared to face things like that [crucifixion] for loyalty to Jesus; it means to be ready to endure the worst that a man can do to us for the sake of being true to him.”  
    “As Christians we will not set our desires and our will against the right Christ has to our lives.  It does not mean cultivating a weak, nonassertive personality or merely denying ourselves certain pleasures…we are to recognize that we now live for the sake of Christ, not for our own sake.”  (Walter L. Liefeld)  This is not a one time activity–it must be done daily.  “Cross-bearing is continuous.  It is heroism of the dull common hour.” (George H. Morrison)  The crosses are many, the day may be long, and there may be days that seem all too dull and common.  What do you think the words at the end of life mean?  Well done, good and faithful–you have carried your cross well.
    One more thing to consider as you stoop to pick up your cross.  When the person who was to be crucified reached down to pick up the beam he must carry he knew where he was going.  This is a one-way journey.