So this morning in my families morning devotions we were reading from Mark 10. As we read through we came across the story of the wealthy man who wasn't willing to give up all his possessions and take up the cross of Jesus. What does taking up the cross of Jesus even mean? Well, my personal interpretation is that if we take up Jesus' cross, we have given up everything for his cause and to completely trust and follow him. This usually means a sacrifice. If there was no cost, everything would be too easy. But if we are willing to pay the price, take up Jesus' cross and receive salvation, God knows who His true followers are.
Here is the story of the wealthy man, found in Mark 10:17-22:
" Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, 'Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?' So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No on is good but One, that is, God. you know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder', ' Do not steal', 'Do not bear false witness', 'Do not defraud', 'Honour your father and your mother'.'
And he answered and he said to him, 'Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.' Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
(Other versions in the Gospel's say he never took up the cross.)
Some of you may have realised by now that I am from Australia, but have been living in Cambodia for the last 19 months with my family, working with girls that have been sexually abused or exploited. I am constantly facing hardships. My biggest one being that I left all of my friends and family (even my oldest sister) behind. If you knew me you would know that when I lived in Australia I was very 'friend orientated', I was always spending time with them I loved helping them out with their problems. I would pray for God's wisdom to be with me and through his wisdom and love I was able to help and give wise advice to my friends. My circle of friends weren't Christian so I was able to constantly be an example to them at school. I love helping people, I never forced my faith on them but tried daily to make it evident that there was something different about me and them. I haven't yet seen them turn to Christ but God was able to use me to plant seeds in all of them and now it's up to Him to bring the water and sunshine they need to grow in Him.
Here I haven't had that same opportunity. There is a different language and the problems these girls had and have are much more deep then the 'easy fix' ones that my friends had. I find that I'm not able to help them in the same way that I did with my friends. The only thing I can do is smile and love them, with my heart and with God's. Sure times get super hard here, especially with the stories of these girls that just break your heart into a million pieces. But you know what is amazing? God. Because I have him in me, I can be a carrier of His love and spread it all around. It's something that is universal and if you have Him inside you too, who gives a rats about a language barrier! His love language is the only one we need to know.
I miss my friends continually, not a single day goes by that I don't miss them. I pray that God will make it easier on me, but I feel like I'm in the middle of a trial. Although I don't and can't play the same role I did with my friends, He has brought my family here for a reason. I can get all upset and snooty about all the things I miss, or I can trust Him and believe that He makes all things work together for my good. Although it's difficult and trials still come, I have chosen to take up His cross.
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6
The bible is full of great promises that tell us if we follow God, nothing can break us, no evil has a hold on us, and we will reap our rewards with our Father in Heaven. How much do you trust God? Do you trust Him enough to take up His cross and leave all earthly things behind?
May God bless and challenge you today.