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The Daily Cross | George D. Watson

The Daily Cross

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”* (Luke 9:23)

To be able to bear our daily cross in the true spirit of our Master, our carnal nature must be crucified. The sinful self of the old man must be denied and put to death so that we may enter the state of perfect obedience in which the cross of our daily trials can be borne in deep fellowship with Jesus. And thus, by bearing this daily cross as we follow in His steps, the sanctified soul is led into an ever deeper death to self, according to the measure of our love and the fervor of our obedience.

What is our daily cross? It is those things in our lives that produce suffering of body, mind, or heart. It is those things which in our poor judgment seem to hinder the easy flow of our religious life. Our cross may be composed of a combination of things, or it may be a but a single source that causes suffering to the soul. Were there no suffering at all, then there would be no cross at all, for the only purpose of a cross is its pain. The form of our daily cross may change with the years, or the same points of suffering may continue till death, but in some shape it abides. It is as impossible for the saint not to have a cross as it is to walk in the sunshine without having a shadow. The Holy Ghost teaches plainly that the multitudes of jolly, easy-going religionists, who bear no daily suffering with Jesus, are only sectarian-born religious bastards, and not really kingdom-born souls (Hebrews 12:8).

It is your daily cross that makes you weep; that sends you to frequent prayer; that leads you to ransack the promises; that makes you cry out, like Jesus, “Father, why is this?”; that causes you to put both arms around the neck of your Savior in yearning love; that makes you sick of earth and self; that gives you wistful longings for heaven. Oh, precious old homely, daily cross, what deep, tender, far-reaching effects thou hast wrought through all these prayer-paved years!

There is an hallucination about getting free from our daily cross which needs to be broken. It is a daydream worked up in our minds, a beautiful vision that hangs just ahead of us, that somehow we can be rid of our cross, so that we will have no painful annoyances, and then our feet can fly unimpeded toward heaven. Alas, that so many saints should get their eyes set on this will-o’-the-wisp dream. If you want deep union with Jesus, getting rid of your cross is the very thing to defeat your desire. There is a better victory than freedom from the daily instrument of pain, and that is to pass into that ocean-depth of the Christ-life, where every trial can be borne in exactly the same spirit that Jesus bore it. Boundless, tender love is the condition for triumphantly bearing our daily cross. When our cross has driven us so deep into the warm ocean-heart of Jesus that we are kept melted and flooded with quiet, lowly, tender, yearning love for God and His kingdom—then the cross will have become its own balm, and every trial will be fuel to the flame of love.

Many misunderstand what it means to truly love the cross. They suppose it means loving the cross on which Christ died. That is incomplete, for it also means loving the very cross in our lives that drives us into deep oneness with Christ. It is to meekly, patiently, lovingly embrace to our inner heart the very principle of self-abnegation and self-nothingness. Religious devotees may wear hair-cloth or knotted cords next to their skin. But all that is too superficial; it does not enter deep enough. Jesus did no such foolish thing. To bear our daily cross as Jesus did, we must take it into our very heart’s love, and bear it meekly, quietly, lovingly, as unto God, and not to man.

How long it takes to accept our daily trial as a gift direct from the hands of our Lord! His eyes are on us; He notices our inner feelings, thoughts, and choices concerning our cross. The spirit in which we bear our trials here will mark the grade of our standing in the world to come. It is by persevering prayer that we get on the sunny side of every sorrow, and on the triumphant side of every trial.

The sharp grain of sand cuts its way into the oyster, where it is enveloped with the life-juices of the creature, and by continuous contact is turned into a pearl. So our daily cross, cutting its way into our life’s core by being folded round and round with many tears and loving prayers, becomes in our souls the very pearl of Christ-likeness, and more valuable than all our own chosen blessings. The Holy Ghost can reveal to us the very disposition in which Jesus bore His daily trials, and when we bear ours in the same spirit, then indeed do we have fellowship with Him.

When it does not please our Father to remove our trials, it is because He wants us to seek and receive an overflow of tender love that will bear us upward, surmounting the trials in spite of travail. Pure, limitless love is the only true victory over trial. An intense love for Jesus is the only water that can make our thorny cross ripen its fruit. So do not cut down your cross, but water it with more love and prayer, and wait for its golden apples.