When I picked up the cross to carry it back upstairs, I was surprised at how heavy it was. It was made of real wood, and there were jagged, rough pieces sticking out as I tried to tuck part of it under my arm. I made it a couple of steps before the secretary asked me if I needed help. She said, "If we need to get someone else to carry it, we can."
I stopped and thought about it for a second. Sure, the prop was heavy. But then I looked at her and I said, "You know, even if it was more than I could carry, I don't think I could ever complain about carrying a cross for any amount of time."
As I made my way up the three flights of stairs, I thought about Jesus. I thought about the pain He suffered in the scourging and beatings prior to having to carry His cross. I thought about how much larger the cross would have been, and how rough it would have been to the touch. I thought about why He had to carry that cross: it wasn't for anything He'd done. No, the weight came from the sins of the world.
After I'd made it to the top of the stairs, I paused and thanked God for the gift of Jesus. Too often we minimize what Jesus did for us in coming to earth and dying on that cruel cross. I know that far too often I forget about the suffering of my Lord on my behalf simply because I'm not being made to carry a physical cross.
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said,
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."
Carrying the cross up those flights of stairs was nothing in comparison to the cross Jesus bore, yet it wasn't easy. Why, then, do we sometimes think that Christianity is going to be a walk in the park? Why do we think that it won't require any sort of change or self-denial? Why do we think that it won't really affect our day to day lives?
Carrying a cross is work. Being a true follower of Christ should be, too. Every day we are to be on guard, ready to stand against Satan. Every day we are to be denying ourselves of worldly wants and pleasures, and seeking first the kingdom of God. Nothing about that screams easy, and yet in comparison to carrying a physical cross to Calvary, it's really nothing. It shouldn't 'burn us out' to do service to our Lord. It shouldn't get us down when we have to skip something that the world deems awesome. We should proudly serve the Prince of Peace who came to this earth and carried a physical cross so that we wouldn't have to.
If I ever, in my service to Him, find myself discouraged or disgruntled or discontent, I just need to remind myself that the cross that He carried wasn't even His, it was mine.