You have to experience the cross to wear the crown. . . . .

My daughter was hiding her head in my left arm. She wasn’t crying, or even whimpering. But she was afraid of the needle that would relax her before her hernia surgery. So, she refused to look at it.

Sounds like a normal child reaction to needles right? Well when you are in a foreign country sometimes what you consider normal can be deceiving. The Japanese doctor threw me out of the room and closed the door because he couldn’t have mothers coddling frightened children. This was explained to me through the interpreter who then got quite an earful from me. When the door opened the nurse was on the bed holding my daughter down with her hands on her shoulders and her legs on my daughters’ feet. Now my daughter was hysterical and I wasn’t too far behind her with the hysteria. The interpreter’s eyes were bigger than golf balls when she saw it and amazingly grew to the size of tennis balls as I exploded. I was so worked up the interpreter called for back-up from the company that took us to Japan.

The entire operation was put on hold waiting for that back-up. I’m sure the interpreter had visions of an international incident. Within 15 minutes two high up officials from the company came and spoke with me. I was calmer at this point and told them that doctor wasn’t to do the surgery. I wanted someone else. They explained to me that he was our only option in this area. They did arrange for me to be with her until she was unconscious and I could be in the recovery room waiting for her. Neither of those were protocol but again American Momma Bear and international incident were not a combination they were eager to deal with. So I agreed, but only if I never had to see or talk to that doctor again. The doctor I dealt with from that moment on had gotten his license in the U.S. and was appropriately apologetic and kind.

Momma’s please tell me you have been there. When someone messes with your baby causing you to feel this foreign rage that swells up inside of you so big you think you are going to explode. And you do explode and with that explosion comes a voice you don’t recognize but can’t stop because someone is hurting your baby that you love so much!

Isn’t it a fabulous blessing to know that as much as we love our kids, Jesus loves us so much more than that? He took on a cross to show us that love and save us from our own sins.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own,[a] as you continually surrender to my ways. For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep. For even if you were to gain all the wealth and power of this world with everything it could offer you—at the cost of your own life—what good would that be? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 TPT

Are we willing to share the cross with Jesus and experience it as our own? I stand in awe of His complete obedience to take on the suffering of that night. His loneliness and fear in the garden. The mocking hatred of the crowd of people that He loved so much. The continued questions of who He was and why they wanted to kill Him. The horrific beatings that left Him beyond recognition. The agony and humiliation of the cross. I can’t even imagine.

While most of us will never face anything of that extreme. We are asked to share the cross with Him. Why did He choose the cross? He knew for His entire life that the cross was necessary for Him to fulfill the prophesy to become the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Our sin separates us from God and we only deserve judgement. Jesus loves us and wants us in eternity with Him, so He took on that judgement on the cross.

Are we willing to take up His cross? What does that look like for us? I would ask are we willing to die to our selfish lives to live the way He did? Are we willing to give up the things of this world that keep us from seeking and doing His work for the greater kingdom?

I want to be clear that God wants us to enjoy life. Taking up the cross of Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy certain foods, clothes, activities etc. It does mean as we continue to transform ourselves to be holy and closer to God, He will ask us to give up some of the things of this world. He will ask us to be obedient and to make choices that reflect Him. He wants us to share in His suffering so that we can also share in His glory! (Romans 8:17 NIV)

I found myself recently giving up James Paterson books. I love Alex Cross, Lindsey Boxer and Michael Benton, but I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to give those up, at least for now. I believe that, right now, God wants me to spend my time on books with more substance. Please understand I don’t think there is anything wrong with people reading these books. I have read all of these book series until about a month ago. This is something God is asking me to do right now and I want to honor that. We all need to listen and hear the Spirit in our own way and time.

I think that taking up His cross and obedience are completely woven together so that we can find the unique purpose and plan that God has for each of our lives. But we can only truly find that through the cross. While I gave the example of giving up James Patterson, He has been working in my life in much bigger ways as well. He is taking me out of my comfort zone in some areas and leading me to things I am excited about but wonder if I’m worthy of in others. So far trust and obedience has gotten me through. It’s not pretty when I stumble around with my words telling a stranger about Jesus. But it’s honest and obedient. And I know God makes diamonds from coals so He can use my bumbling voice too.

So many of us balk at taking up the cross because we see it as giving up perceived freedoms. I would argue that the blessings and freedom you find when you are obedient to Him are so much better than the freedoms of the world. God made you in His image, He loves you, delights in you and He will never steer you wrong. There is no better freedom than to transform in complete trust of the one who loves you most.

So Momma Bears, when you think of what you would endure for your children and know what He endured for you, I encourage you to share the experience of the cross that God is leading you too. Because all the love you have for your precious children pales in comparison to the love God has for you! It’s an extraordinary journey that will bless you in ways you cannot imagine. But every sacrifice is worth it, because that sacrifice is leading you to your crown when you enter the gates of heaven and live the eternity God has for you!

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