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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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In My Prayer Room

Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.












You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.























You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.


















You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
song
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
and smoul…