Bearing the Cross

Throughout this spring and summer of pausing and waiting, several books have been such a help to me. I hope to share more about one of those books later this week, as I give a special review post for my friend, Cheryl Smith. But another one of those books was written by a woman who found soul and spirit restoration in her garden after God brought her through a long journey with cancer. As she was working with her blooms one day, the thought rang through her mind:

“Must one always suffer to be transformed? Is that the only way?”

From the Fire Into the Garden, by Deborah Marqui, Nature’s Path Publishing Co, 2019, pg. 222

And from that question, my thoughts ran to this old hymn by Thomas Shepherd. As I listened to the song, two new stanzas were birthed in my heart, as I asked my own questions of the Lord:

Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone

Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone
And there's a cross for me ...

Must this life bear suff'ring's mark
While all my heart be cleansed?
Yes, every step along this way
Is fully clothed with Jesus' grace.

Must every heart bear a cross
And see our flesh be cured?
Yes, Jesus' cross is borne for me
My only crown and jewel.

--bg (1st Stanza from Hymn by Thomas Shepherd, 1693, public domain)

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.

Matthew 16:24 The Passion Translation

On the day that I was finally able to step outside after my Ablation treatment, I was so eager to get a photo of my own beautiful blooms that had grown during my rest time. However, the reality of what I was feeling is captured in the glimpse of my face that was showing:

See the “Grimacing Gnome” that visited my garden?

And, while the photo made me share a chuckle with my husband, the true feelings in my body and heart were revealed in the grimace that escaped out of me as I tried so hard to keep from falling.

A deeper truth came out the next day, as a friend asked me if I felt anger about the delay and the pain that has been such a constant this summer. Tears trickled slowly down my face, then, but they flowed all the more swiftly when another friend sent me a sermon on Lament. She said she and her husband had thought of me throughout the whole sermon, and how God had been working so deeply in my heart in that very process.

Lamenting is not a new subject for me–you can read a post I wrote about it HERE when I first paused with the thought, almost 4 years ago. But as in so much of this journey with Jesus, He brings us back around to lessons we thought we had learned, to take us deeper into His truth.

It is in this lamenting, in this offering ourselves honestly before Him, that He will truly bring us under HIS authority, under His cross. And that is where the place of transformation happens. We are with Christ, with unveiled faces, looking to HIM for every grace that we so need.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

And somehow in this place of anger, grieving, and lamenting, Jesus has met me with HIS own dear Words of comfort. He is bringing His transformation to me, to conform me to His own likeness, in ways that I cannot see. For my face is unveiled before Him–fixing my gaze on HIM.

If you are a close observer, you might have noticed that my header photo changed over the course of this summer. The photo of the wide open sky over the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan called out to the deep places of my longing heart. But last week when I read the words at Melissa’s McLaughlin’s site, as she spoke about bearing the image of Christ, I paused and began weeping as she quoted that verse from 2 Corinthians. And I felt something shift in me.

I had kept the tagline,

“Finding a new heart while walking through chronic illness–Ezekiel 36:26”

since I had begun my site here on WordPress almost 3 years ago. In that shifting last week, I felt the Lord plunging me into the next part of my journey here.

Part of my “with-ness” for this year’s #oneword has come to mean a deeper walk WITH an unveiled face before Him. And in that process, He is bringing His own transformation, His own purposes for my new tagline here:

“With an unveiled face, being transformed into the image of Christ–2 Cor. 3:18”

He is asking me to let my true face–the face that has always felt lacking in some sense, but feels even more marred now because of these diseases–to remain open and uncovered in His presence. I pray that we all will become more willing to walk with Him in the unveiling into His precious transforming.

Would pray along with me today?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being such a loving creator, such an amazing potter. We confess that we have been that clay, that cries out on your potter’s wheel, “Why did You make me like this?” Oh, but Father, thank You for sending Your own son, Jesus, to bear the weight of all that sin has marred and destroyed in this world. Thank You, Jesus, for taking up all of our diseases and imperfections and nailing them to YOUR cross. We come under Your cross now, we receive Your authority and Your healing from that shame. Help us to let You unveil our hearts that we might become transformed, ever more each day, to look more like YOU. We lift our hearts of praise to You alone now.

In the name of Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

I am linking with: #TellHisStory

17 thoughts on “Bearing the Cross

  1. Dear Bettie, once again your words have tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. They speak of hard-won wisdom, discernment and insight. They also speak of grace in life’s dark places, where a gradual, holy unveiling reveals even more of the beauty of Christ within. He shines so brightly out of your surrendered heart, your openness and transparency as you share your arduous, pain filled journey here. Your sadly confined and constrained life is being transformed into a place of freedom, joy and delight, a beautiful garden of the soul where our Lord loves to walk, admire the flowers, and converse with you. If only we could all be just as willing to become unveiled before God and others! Bless you, dear sister, for this touching post which yields far more than one read through can convey. Sending much love, empathy hugs and ongoing healing prayers to you. xoxo 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joy,
      It is really so amazing to me the way that God has allowed our paths to be woven together, and to face some of these same trials and lessons here. You have been such an inspiration to me as you share your beautiful poetry that touches something so deep in my heart. And I know that in the touch of His Spirit there, He is calling forth beautiful surrenders in each of us. I am so grateful for your willingness to share what others might hide away. And truly, I pray that my heart would become more of that “beautiful garden of the soul where our Lord loves to walk, admire the flowers, and converse with you.” Oh how I long for that, but know that I have so far to go still. Praise God that we can pray for each other, and rejoice in those blooms that we can see in the lives of the other! Blessings, hugs, and so much love across the miles for you, dear sister. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Bettie, I am overwhelmed at your words. Your beauty in Christ shines like a beacon in the night. Truly His beauty is cultivated through suffering. As the veil is lifted and you reflect more of His glory, your heart glows with a heavenly sheen. How I wish I could take the pain from you or bear some of it on my own shoulders. To think that you find His glorious Presence and deep, healing messages through this unending pain, is a wonder to me. Everything about you is beautiful to me – your faith, your honesty, your message of hope, your poem-songs. Somehow, our marred faces, when unveiled before Jesus are more beautiful than ever. For He laid down His image to restore ours. Oh what a Savior! I am blessed beyond words that the Holy Spirit linked our hearts and message once again this week. Thank you for including me here and I have linked to your post, as well. Your words complete the message. May Jesus be praised through our tears. We remember You on the cross, marred for us. Though it hurt, carve us, oh sweet Savior, to look like You. Sweet sister, I am sending tears, hugs, prayers and love. You are precious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Melissa,
      I am so in awe of how the Lord would weave His Word together in our hearts again. Only HIS Holy Spirit could have known how deeply my heart would be touched. Oh this is so precious: “Somehow, our marred faces, when unveiled before Jesus are more beautiful than ever. For He laid down His image to restore ours. Oh what a Savior!” Amen! Thank YOU Lord Jesus, for the healing and transformation that you have always purposed to bring to us. And I am so thankful Melissa for the true and honest heart that you share in your writing also. The Lord is so present as you share the message of His Scripture that He has brought to you. And thank you for the precious support that you share here with me also. Just last night, I wondered if I had been too personal in my sharing here, and questioned whether I should even keep this post available. But as I read your comments first thing this morning, I heard the Lord confirming that, yes, HE wants our hearts open and unveiled before Him, and He wants us to share in that process with each other. Thank you for being so responsive to Him. Blessings, love, and hugs to you, dear friend.

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  3. Good afternoon, Bettie, Thank you for being transparent in your unveiling before He who loves you so. I am so sorry the wait has dragged on, as we count time here on earth. I am so sorry the pain has perhaps changed but not lessened. I praise Him for giving you comfort and for giving you the strength and words to share with us, me, who now has a son with Crohn’s disease. There is a war in my heart as I pray, Lord, heal him, Lord Your will be done. Thank you for this post and for your prayers and sisterly encouragement over the last few years. I was asked to think of mentors God has brought me in the faith. You have been one, sister. Love, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Julie,
      Oh, I thank you so very much for all of your sweet support and prayers over these last few years too! What a blessing to be able to share the heart of Jesus with each other. I am so grateful that He wove our paths together, in so many sweet ways. And now, I will continue to pray for your visits to the Rheumatologist and for the next steps forward with Crohn’s disease. And I understand that war, oh so well. But we can trust that He will heal–if not now, then in eternity for sure. HE is our great physician, and He knows best how to direct every step in this process. I am continually asking for His wisdom in my steps too. May the Lord speak His will and His way into our lives. Love you so much, dear sister.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, sweet friend! I am continuing to pray for you and trust that God will somehow ease your chronic pain. Your heart is so precious and full of devotion for our Lord, even in the worst of times. You are such a dear blessing and inspiration to us all! Sending much love to you tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thank you for your precious prayers over all these many months and years! I am so grateful that He lets us bring His hope and His Word to each other. What a precious Savior we have. I am praying for you and your sweet family today. Much love and hugs for you.

      Like

  5. I admire you, dear Bettie, for braving an unveiled face before us and before God. The writers who touch me the deepest and who help me see my own need the clearest are unveiled writers like you. I’m only just learning to unveil. It’s an act of obedience and courage. Praying for you, my friend.
    Gentle hugs & blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Wendy,
      Thank you so much for your dear prayers and hugs! This unveiling is surely a process that I am so grateful He helps us with. I so often think of your “Tapping into tears,” and am blessed by those thoughts that you shared. Jesus knows our hearts and how to move us closer to Him. May you be blessed and carried through each day. Love & hugs for you too! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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