The path to surrender is the road of the cross

It was early, but the birds were awake to witness our departure.  I'm sure they sang like they did every other morning, but I was in no frame of mind to hear them.  The sun was throwing pale yellow rays through the fronds that hung over the uneven road to our neighborhood known as Colonia Becklin.  And just beneath the height of the hanging coconuts grew a Plumeria tree displaying Nicaragua's national flower.

I wonder, sometimes, at how the earth still spins and pushes forth beauty when a world can stop short, caving in from the weight of sadness and disappointment.


Our home for the past year, with its concrete walls and leaking roof, its dusty floors and roach filled kitchen, stood in stoic silence as we passed by for the last time.  Our call to missions wasn't suppose to the end this way, this soon.  The guards had given us a bored, sleepy wave when we drove through the gate.  We were one of many missionaries who had lived in that neighborhood.  I doubt they remember our faces the way I remember theirs.  I am still unsure why this bothers me.

I remember a lot of things.

I remember wrapping my arms around my friend Susan, a fellow missionary, as we said goodbye at the airport.  I remember the relief of those plane wheels lifting, leaving the hard weight of the last two months solidly behind us.  I remember the anxiety of not knowing who would be in Cincinnati to welcome us home.  I was wanting, at once, to see those who had loved and supported us while not wanting to face my own sense of having failed them in one way or another.

But they were there, our family and our friends, with all of their joy and none of their judgement.  Those open arms and smiling faces were the Plumeria blossoms of that day, pushing forth and drawing us into their beauty.  The emotion lodged in my throat and I choked back tears.  I can see it now, the body of Christ waiting to welcome us home.  We didn't earn it.  We didn't deserve it.  And yet it was there, a welcoming grace for the weary traveler of life.

There were so many questions then.  So many unknowns.  No car, no house, no job, no direction.  So many ways to doubt that God would write a better story than I could.  This past year was hard.  How can pain and loss and rejection and disappointment be a part of God's best for me?

His plans for me are good?

But I see how that is the theme of His son's story.  My wounds lie within me, but His are displayed in those outstretched hands.  "Look at me." I hear him say.  "Remember these wounds of my suffering and believe that your life can be resurrected; your life can be made new."  He knew the cost of obedience to the Father.  He gave His life knowingly, willingly.  He knew how this sacrifice was needed to redeem the world.  To redeem me.

I learn again that faith does not grow in the known, but in the unknown.  I press forward in the hope of what is not yet realized.  He promises that His plans for me are good.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  I trust the faithfulness of God.  And I feel in the deepest place of my heart that desire to give what I can to the One who gave everything.

I can give me, my all, my life.

I have decided once and then again a thousand other times, a life spent for Jesus is the only one I want to live.  I don't always know what that looks like.  I make mistakes.  I sin.  I cannot offer perfection, but I am willing to strive towards his way, his truth, his life.  It is written three times in the collection of the Gospels, Jesus' challenging invitation.  "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34, Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23)

The cross, it stands firm in symbolism.  History tells us that the Romans required criminals to carry their cross to the place of execution.  The weight of that wood was the weight of submission to Roman authority.  Jesus walked the road to his death in complete surrender.  He laid down his life as they raised up that cross, and even his followers in their humanity could not understand how this was fulfilling God's perfect will.

His plans for me are good, even when they don't feel good.  This is the weight of submission, this is the road of the cross.  Let it not be my will, but the will of God on this earth and in heaven.

We know the ending to this story.  Surrender precedes death.  Death precedes life everlasting.

This is his plan, and it is good.








Comments

  1. So glad you had the strength to walk in His light and Truth. I am glad to have known you along the way!

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