The Lord said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). If you think about it, that is a frighteningly emphatic statement. If we don’t bear our own crosses and follow after Jesus, we cannot be His disciples; not being Christ’s disciple means dying in our sins and going to hell. None of us wants that. No. We do want to be found living the American Dream- only to wake-up in the middle of an eternal nightmare. So, when last call comes; (or in the Christianese language- when the last trumpet sounds), we want to be found with a cross on our backs and Christ in our sights.
So this is what I think about when I am up at night. It’s what all Christians think about when they are up at night. It is just that sometimes I do not always (we do not always) realize that it is a call to the cross, which is keeping us up at night. But, it is. When we are awake with anxiety over the fight that we had with the husband, or we are up with sick babies and aging parents, or we are being kept awake by the awareness that the mortgage is due – but we don’t have the money to pay it, the call to the cross is keeping us up at night. That is; the call of Christ on our lives to die to ourselves and follow Him in humble obedience is keeping us up at night; the call to give up our desire to be right or to feel like we are in control of everything is keeping us up at night (both practical aspects of the call to the cross). The thing of it is- those things just don’t look like a wooden stake with a cross beam (at least, to most of us-they don’t). They look like an unkind, and unfair accusation by our husbands, a typical night for a mom of young kids, and the normal monthly battle to keep the house and maintain good credit. But, they are crosses- they are just the 21st century American version of the call to the cross.
Crosses, which Christ calls His disciples to bear.
Sometimes, though, the call to the cross isn’t waking us up at night, at all. It is not waking us up- because the Lord’s call to the cross is so loud that we can’t even get to sleep.For example, when we are wound-up tighter than a drum thinking about the huge life changing decisions that American women must make- like, should I marry this guy? (Even though, I know that he isn’t passionate about Jesus Christ); or, is divorce actually unbiblical? (…what designates abandonment and unfaithfulness, anyways?). Or, maybe we are up thinking about the lesser things in life; like, writing papers or doing calculus problems (that is, at least-maybe- we are up at night trying to do calculus problems). Any number of circumstances that require a midnight rendezvous with our minds can keep us up at night. But, is that really a call to the cross keeping us up at night?- Or is that just life- keeping us awake at night? Well, for the believer in Christ- it is both a call to the cross and life that is keeping us up at night. The call to the cross is our life, and our lives consist of answering Christ’s call to the cross.
So then, Christ calls His followers to bear the cross.
And, the things that keep us at night are very often the personalized crosses that Jesus Christ has called us to bear. Wayward children, unfaithful friends, tight financial squeezes, and even hot-flashes and term-papers are our God-ordained crosses. For the Lord has ordained all of the painful events, overwhelming circumstances, and frustrating relationships in our lives to the end that we wake up from our American Dream life-styles, and answer the call of Christ to bear our own crosses and follow Him. I guess we could say that the things that keep us up at night are divine wake-up calls. Wake-up calls which are intended to help us- the people of God- open our eyes to our own remaining sin, indwelling selfishness, shallow love, lukewarm tendencies, innate weaknesses, and everything else that makes us aware of our need to experience the power of God in resurrection. In the end, the things that keep us up and wake us up at night are by divine intention supposed to keep us up at night- contemplating Christ, contemplating His call to the cross, and contemplating the truth that “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”