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Cross and Pain

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24 NIV

Most mornings I go to my prayer room in the basement for about half an hour before going to work. One of the things I do while I'm there is read a short passage from The complete Works of Oswald Chambers and then meditate for about ten minutes on the accompanying Scripture.

I've always tried to wrap my mind around Christ's words about taking up our cross. Crosses before Jesus died were instruments of cruel and painful deaths. Oswald Chambers says (in "Approved unto God") that "the cross is the pain involved in doing the will of God." Now THAT makes sense to me.

If our cross is pain, then what Jesus is telling us is to take up our pain and follow him. There is pain in following Christ. We are not to run from it because that is running from God. Instead, we pick it up. We embrace it. We carry it with us and follow, just as Paul endured much pain because he followed and obeyed Jesus (check out 2 Corinthians 11:25-29 where he lists all the very painful and difficult things he went through).

God, please enable me to pick up my pain and keep it with me so I can follow you rather than running from both it and you. My pain right now is that I want to fill up on chocolate and licorice allsorts but I've committed to fast from these things so that I will draw closer to you (and lose weight). Help me God!

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