Monday, April 23, 2018

“Wait for YOUR TURN!”

Written for the prompt word "TURN" for FMF Community challenge


When I was a toddler my mother's constant words whenever she took me to the park or when she was teaching me to play nicely with my neighborhood playmates, “Take turns now. Your turn will come.” But children aren't born with an ounce of patience.


My turn eventually did come.


When I grew impatient to start kindergarten like the neighbor children, again I heard, “Your turn will come.”


And it did, of course.


Later, when I was anxious to grow up quickly and graduate and get on with life, “Your turn will come.”


And it did.


I couldn't wait to finish college and get on with planning for my wedding. Yes, my turn came.


And my turn came to become a mother.

Then a grandmother.

Then my turn has come to experience the joy of being a great-grandmother of 13 youngsters.


Now, with God's generous blessing of longevity, I look eagerly ahead for my turn to lay aside my “earth suit” and turn it in for a “space suit” more appropriate for Eternal Immortal Living.


“To everything there is a season,” declared the wisest of men in the Scriptures. “There is a turn for every stage of life. That's the perfect way God designed it.


Monday, April 16, 2018

"WATCH FOR FALLING ROCKS!"

I pray for something now that wasn't on my priority list earlier in my life. “Lord, keep me from falling!”



I didn't have a problem with my balance before. I could literally run to and fro in the fast lane of life. Being calendar-challenged now, compounded by neuropathy, changes the picture. My medical persons warn me not to fall because my “earth suit” is now more fragile and broken bones would be disastrous.



I see a correlation with my spiritual life as a Christian. Some of us solid Rock Christians, when undergoing pressures and trials, have been known to slip and stumble and fall. Due to the length of the journey of life and the weariness of always trudging uphill, some of us lose our balance and fall. 

Sometimes Christians whose life is built on the Rock, who have known the joy of the Lord, as time goes on grow cold and lose their joy. (Luke 8:13) “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.”



Rather than adversity, it could be prosperity and success that contributes to our fall. (1 Timothy 6:9) “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”



Do we think that we would never fall? Do I? (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The apostle Peter, of all people, bragged that although all others would fall away, he would never do so. You know the rest of the story.



Scripture instructs us to look out for ourselves lest we fall. Beyond that, we are responsible to lift up other “fallen rock” brothers and sisters in Christ.



Driving along the blue line roads of Virginia surrounded by forest and rocky formations close to the roadside, I have come upon signs warning “Watch for falling rocks!” Erosion loosens rocks that were once firmly embedded and they tumble down onto the traffic lanes. The fallen rocks become a danger to others, as do we. When we fall, we drag others down with us.



Peter sums it up from his own experience. (2 Peter 3:17) “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.”



One of the major factors contributing to our potential fallen state is when we have “fallen out of love” with our Lord. In Revelation 2:4 Jesus tells His own beloved ones, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”



If we have become “fallen rocks,” it need not be permanent. Nor is it a problem only for us in our later years. Isaiah 40:30 “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”



God promises to uphold us in our weakness and pick us up when we fall. (Psalm 37:24) “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).




Friday, April 13, 2018

My OTHER authorblog is being birthed

For the FMF writers' prompt word for today: OTHER

I've been working on “OTHER” in a creative way in my blogosphere lately. I've been a blogger for 10 years and although I will continue my inspirational posting there, I'm excited to be birthing an OTHER second blog dedicated to serving Christian writers.

I hope to launch this authorblog in a week or so—I won't give you the link yet because I haven't fully fleshed it out, added the Mailchimp, etc. I'm “aflutter” (pardon the butterfly pun, given the theme I'm using) about its potential and the interactive way I'm setting it up and the services I'm offering to writers.

Below I copy the last couple of paragraphs of my “WELCOME” page as an appetizer. I hope it tastes good to you and you'll come over to visit me as soon as this OTHER blog is flying. Stay tuned!

“For some time I've been sending encouraging writing "Tips"-- suggestions, resources and meaningful writing links by email to writers I'm coaching.

I've used the analogy of writers eventually becoming like butterflies after starting out as caterpillars, going through the quiet, growing chrysalis stage and ultimately emerging to fly freely on their unique beautiful wings. I plan to continue my service of "Butterfly Tips" through my posts on this blog.


The hopeful dreamer, the "wannabe" beginning writer is like the lowly
caterpillar full of potential but hardly aware of what could be coming. All writers start out in that stage but shouldn't stay at ground level. God intends more for you. You aren't meant to crawl forever; you were meant to fly! The main occupation of a beginning writer, like a caterpillar, is to "eat" to build himself up for the next stage by learning his craft, listening to God and moving forward. 

Most writers experience a chrysalis stage where nothing seems to be happening. We feel static and isolated and getting nowhere. Time and patience are needed. We are being formed in the darkness for the surprise that is looming ahead!

With the help of the Creator of this splendid metamorphosis, the butterfly struggles and in due time comes forth from its cocoon. Just so, the butterfly writer emerges from his inertia and takes flight. With much editing and revision he begins to successfully and professionally communicate his message and becomes published. He realizes the potential that God put within him when he was in his caterpillar stage. An awesome transformation!

I encourage you through this new authorblog to pursue your calling as a butterfly-to-be Christian writer. What is your mission, if you choose to accept it? To pollinate your part of the world with the Good News of the Kingdom of God through whatever genre He is giving you.
With God, it isn't a "mission impossible!"

Let's get busy at our computer keyboards so we can bless the world and witness for the Lord through communicating His message as skilled wordsmiths in God's Kingdom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THE “HEM OF HIS GARMENT”


What's the story behind sick people pressing upon Jesus trying to touch his clothing to be healed? The passage from Mark 6:56 sent me on a search for Jewish culture and traditions at the time of Christ. 

Biblical scholars tell us that some Scripture translations need more accurate rendering. It was not simply the “hem” of His ordinary garment which the woman with the issue of blood reached out to touch. 

More correctly translated in some versions, it was the fringe, or tassels on His Prayer Shawl. As a Rabbi, Jesus would have worn one most of the time over his ordinary clothing and around His shoulders. The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this. Definitely Jesus would have worn it when He “went apart alone to pray” or when He taught in the Synagogues. It was called a “Tallith.”

When I was traveling in Israel, I bought a modern one which was quite elaborate. 

A Tallith today is made of silk or wool, usually white, interwoven with threads of blue, gold, and silver. Each color has some significance. The “zizith” are the fringes or tassels of entwined threads at the four corners of the shawl which people were reaching out to touch for healing. Smaller tassels are in series of 10 to represent the 10 Commandments. 

Often a representation of the tablets of the Commandments is embroidered on it, as well as the 7 stick candelabra. Hebrew words from the Torah, for instance: “The Lord our God is one God” and other quotations are embroidered on it. The tassels at the ends are blue or purple and longer than the others. A Rabbi or Messianic Jewish friend could tell us more about the spiritual and traditional significance of the designs.

In the Old Testament in Numbers 15:37- 41 and Deuteronomy 22:12 God commanded Moses to give specific instructions to the men of Israel how certain items should be made and their significance. The tassels at the corners were a reminder to keep the Commandments of God. They became the symbol of Jewish obedience to the Law. Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites in Matthew 23:5 for making their tassels overly long to publicly display their piety while their actions didn’t measure up.

Some biblical scholars suggest that the word translated “tent” in reference to the apostle Paul's occupation to support himself while preaching so that he would not be a burden to those who heard his good news actually means the making of Prayer Shawls. Not tents in the sense of durable cloth sewn together to provide a place of temporary living outdoors. “Tentmaking” was also the occupation of Priscilla and Aquila mentioned in Acts. Jewish society at that time would not have been a ready market for such a commodity as collapsible shelters. 

(Still other scholars believe that Paul and his friends were constructing the temporary booths that were required for the Feast of the Tabernacles called Sukkot. So the jury is still out on the precise meaning of their occupation.)

In Israeli society then as well as now, there was little time alone because people lived so crowded together. Jesus often felt the urgency for privacy, to separate Himself from the crowd, even from His disciples, to listen to His Father. When a Jewish man wanted to pray, he could do so anywhere and anytime by putting his Prayer Tallith around his shoulders or over his head. Immediately, whether there was a crowd around him or not, he was “praying in secret” as Jesus described it. Some suppose that “entering into your closet to pray” could also have referred to creating a private place for prayer by putting on the Prayer Shawl.

These days in our society privacy is at a premium as well. Our cities are crowded and at home we are often surrounded by family members. Friends, work associates, and the general public press in upon us when we are away from home. Quiet time to pray is hard to come by. Nevertheless, we can and should “pray without ceasing” throughout the day whatever the circumstances as the apostle Paul wrote.

Christ indwells the believer. God is always with me and in me by His Holy Spirit. I am never separated from Him. However, some people may find it helpful during their private prayers to use some tangible symbol to make such time special. Some people light a candle. It can be a reminder to approach the presence of God in silence and with a spirit of reverence and awe.

Of course there is nothing magical about putting on a prayer shawl of whatever kind when I set aside a regular time for prayer. We don’t have to use an authentic one such as Jewish men, and women too, use today during prayer. It can be a scarf around my shoulders or a veil over my head as a symbol that I am separating myself from the distractions around me while devoting myself to prayer. 

When Susanna Wesley, mother of 18 children (including her famous preacher and hymn writer sons, John and Charles Wesley) wanted privacy for prayer, she pulled her work apron over her head. Whether she was in the kitchen or the bedroom, her children, even the youngest ones, knew and respected her quiet time with God.

In whatever way we reach out to touch Jesus for healing, wisdom, strength or provision of our daily needs, the promise is “Draw near unto God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) 

No matter what crowd is pressing around us, how our circumstances push us to the wall, how we long for personal space, how much we desire healing and wholeness of body, mind or spirit, we can touch Jesus as did the woman in the crowd. “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 145:18, 19).


Friday, April 6, 2018

RELEASE THE BARNACLES!


 (For the FMF writers' challenge to write on the word "release.")

BARNACLES are small marine crustaceans, saltwater animals with an  external shell-like covering. They are "attachers." They join themselves permanently to ships, wharves, and rocks, and other marine animals. Clinging to the hull of a ship they can reduce the vessel's speed. The ship must be put in dry dock to have the bottom scraped from barnacles. 

I too am like some ships at sea which are loaded down with barnacles. I'm weighted down, slowed from pressing on to the best plan God has for my life. I confess to unwanted attachments and feelings. I need to release them, let them go!

I unnecessarily cling to offenses against me, real or imagined. They multiply exponentially. I remember hurts and keep the wounds open by reviewing them in my mind. I cling to negative emotions long after the situation is resolved which was the cause of them. I should release these barnacles. I should let them go!

I can't seem to forget events of the past when I was slighted or disappointed, occasions when I was sinned against or taken advantage of. They are barnacles. I should let them go!

Sometimes I, myself am a barnacle clinging to some relationship that is over, trying to resurrect a friendship that should be relegated to the past. There may be people I should allow to leave my life, whom God wants out of my life. I may be holding on to a wrong relationship or an addiction. I should intentionally release it. I should let it go!

I might be holding on to some thoughts of evil or revenge, planning to get even with someone for what he or she did to me. I must let it go!

If I am stuck in the past and God is trying to take me to a new level in Him, I should turn my back on the past, let it go, and let God do His new work in me. If I keep trying to help someone who doesn’t accept or want my help, I should back off and let it go! If there is a particular situation that I am used to handling myself and God is saying 'take your hands off of it,' then I need to let it go!

If I don't release these things voluntarily, God may need to scrape these barncales off. The process is sure to be painful. Nevertheless, I will be lightened to “press on to the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus...” (Philippians 3: 13, 14). The Lord will bless me with a fresh start in a new direction if I allow Him to scrape the barnacles off of my life. 

In my older calendar years I have an even greater accumulation of barnacles from which I need to be detached. No matter what my age or how complicated my circumstances, God is sufficient if I am willing to let them go, release them, detach myself from the “clingers,” forget the past, and surrender myself totally into His hands.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Why Does the Sky Cry?

(For the online writing-challenge--an April poem)
 
One might expect a little child to ask such an innocent, naive question when watching the spring rain fall. Since I am a “forever-child” of my Heavenly Father, He won’t object to my asking the same question.
       A dark, overcast sky with gentle raindrops pattering on my roof and splashing in puddles outside evokes conflicting emotions within me—I feel wistful, happy, yet sad, peaceful, nostalgic, and pensive all wrapped up with melancholy.
 Rain makes me feel both restful and restless.

Sky Tears


Why does the sky cry?

For what has been and is no more?

For what is not and never will be?

For what will be but is delayed?

Does the sky cry from emptiness or fullness?

Or simply because in the cycle of seasons

it is time to cry?

The sky needs release and the thirsty ground

needs sky tears to soften the soil

and prepare for spring:

 the planting, sprouting, birth of life.

The weeping sky and the rejoicing earth

meet in expectancy for the certainty

of growth after the spring rain.


Why does my heart cry?

I don't know why. Perhaps

for all the reasons

of the sky and earth combined

for I am part of that cycle of life

and its seasons.

I seem to be always in transition

always in anticipation

always in passage to another stage.

I too cry from emptiness and from fullness

and for release. Sometimes wistfully

looking backward

and then again pressing

longingly forward.

Sometimes my tears are neither sad nor glad.


Perhaps my tears are the bridge between

the loving decrees of God for my life

those unknown episodes

still beyond the horizon

and the thirst of my earth-heart to know

what they are and what the coming spring will bring

after the planting, after the sprouting

after the births of life that will come forth in me

ultimately 

after my spring rain.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Settled=Done=IT IS FINISHED!

(Written for "FMF" Five Minute Friday writing challenge on the word "settled"--on Good Friday's commemoration of our Lord's death on the Cross)


On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land some years ago, our group of American Christians had the opportunity and physical challenge to try climbing to the summit of what is traditionally known as Mount Sinai in the Egyptian desert. We were awakened at 3 in the morning by our Israeli guide so we could reach the top in time to view the sunrise. 

The climb in pitch darkness with failing flashlights over rocky terrain was more than arduous! I was not one of those who completed the ascent--some of us, breathless and exhausted, took shelter in a rocky cove about half way and waited to join our triumphant group for our descent. 

I wrote this poem afterward contrasting the two mounts: Mount Sinai and Mount Calvary. 


TWO MOUNTS

Sinai thunders "Do!"
Calvary whispers "Done!"

As Moses climbed Mt. Sinai
so I will try
sweating and straining
stumbling over rugged rocks
slipping on steep slopes.
Attempting Sinai's summit
I make it only half way!

Sinai thunders "Do!"
THE LAW, imposed for the good of man
measures with a perfect, divine ruler
man's inability to attain
a "mission impossible" standard:
breaking one law
I stand condemned by all. 

Calvary whispers "Done!"
GRACE, bought by the blood of the One
who dragged a rugged cross
over rough cobblestones
up Calvary--instead of me
and made it all the way
bought my freedom from THE LAW!
 
Not by works of THE LAW
but by GRACE! 
 It is settled!
"It is finished!" our Savior cried.

Sinai thunders "Do!"
Calvary whispers "Done!"--
once for all!




Monday, March 26, 2018

IF THE SHOE FITS....

   (Background from Scripture)

[The night Jesus was betrayed] "...they all left Him and fled. And a certain young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he left the linen sheet behind, and escaped naked." Mark 14:50-52 

 Mark is the only Gospel writer who records this incident. Was he himself perchance that young follower of Jesus whose well-to-do mother is identified as Mary of Jerusalem? Mark is referred to by historians as 'John Mark of Jerusalem'. His mother is known to have hosted Jesus and His disciples on numerous occasions in her probably spacious home. It remained a gathering place for prayer for the early Christians. (Acts 12:12). She may have been one of the women who followed Jesus seeing to their collective material needs with their own resources.

Her home may have been the location of the Last Supper. (Mark 14:15) My pure speculation, but Mark may have been there that night assisting his mom with the hospitality. After they had sung the last hymn and headed off to the Mount of Olives, (Mark 14:26) young Mark might have been getting ready for bed when his mom got wind of something sinister about to happen to Jesus in a familiar location not far from their home. The young man might have taken off at a run to see for himself, neglecting to put his clothes back on. Could he have been "the young man wrapped in a sheet" who got scared and ran off after the soldiers arrested Jesus?

 From a Commentary: The early Church is practically unanimous in ascribing the Second Gospel to Mark, the cousin of Barnabas and associate of apostles Paul and Peter. Thought to have been baptized by Peter, strong tradition also supports the assertion that in this Gospel he recorded the firsthand recollections and preaching of Peter, who calls Mark "my son" in 1 Peter 5:13. Mark was along on one of the early missionary journeys with Paul and Barnabas but dropped out and returned home to Jerusalem for unknown reasons. (Acts 13:13) This resulted in "a sharp disagreement" between Paul and Barnabas and a parting of their ways. (Acts 15:39) As John Mark, the unproven fledgling Christian, grew up and matured in his faith to become a steady, dependable disciple, he was restored into the good graces of Paul. (Colossians 4:10) After the death of Peter, historians say that John Mark became the first bishop of the Alexandrian Church.


HIS SANDALS
(An imagined scenario)
What happened to Jesus’ sandals?
Leona Choy

Soldiers jerked off His sandals
to nail His bare feet
to a rough-splintered cross
callously casting lots
for His seamless garment.
They tossed aside His filthy sandals
caked with mud
stained with blood
from His painful struggle
up Golgotha's hill
--not worth a throw of dice.

Then I noticed the sandals
hugged tightly under the arm
of a frightened youth.
They called him John Mark.
Where had I seen him before?
At the synagogue door?
Or helping his mother
hosting the Last Supper?
Perhaps in Gethsemane
running naked from the grasp
of Jesus' enemy?

What would that lad do
with those precious sandals?
Were they just a souvenir
of a grisly spectacle
that even in a later movie age
would surely be rated "R"
for violence and brutality?
Hiding alone in the shadows
on the fringes of the crowd
the boy watched the Man on the cross
suffering and dying.
Without Parental Guidance
to explain the meaning
of this atrocity
would he grasp the import
of this scandalous documentary?

Would this wide-eyed youth
understand the dreadful drama
he beheld that historic day
outside the city wall?
Would he realize that God 
had planned it all
from Eternity?

Would God provide a mentor
to relate the significance
of the death of this Man
who laid aside His sandals and robe
in the Upper Room
and stooped to wash
the grimy feet of His friends?

Would the boy wear those sandals?
Would he dare?
Would he be found worthy
and chosen eventually
to walk in the sandals
of that God-Man of Galilee?
Would they be to him
like the mantle of Elijah
enduing him doubly
with power for service?
Would he wear those very sandals
to take the Good News
one day far away
on missionary journeys?

YES! And he would write
a Gospel for those 
who weren't there
those scattered everywhere
down the corridors of time
to tell what he had witnessed
firsthand with his youthful eyes
at the Cross that terrible day
and received from the keen memory
of Peter the fisherman-disciple
who too had known
the beloved Christ of Galilee
and followed Him
in his own sandals!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

IN THE WRONG/RIGHT PLACE AT THE WRONG/RIGHT TIME?


THIS MYSTERY MAN comes along every Easter in the reading of Scripture during Holy Week in most churches. We wonder about him.
 
So who was this Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry His cross? Wasn't he just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, an insignificant, curious "passer-by," as he was referred to in the Scripture? Wasn't he randomly picked from the crowd by the Roman guards? 
 
What was so important about him that all three synoptic gospel writers would record the event? Why would his name be recorded for history when others prominent in Jesus' ministry like the rich young ruler didn't even get a name identity? There must be more here than meets the eye!

Where is Cyrene anyway? I was surprised to find that it is in North Africa not far from the modern day city of Benghazi in Libya which was so prominently in the news during the terrorist attack of September 11, 2012!

A condemned person was always forced to bear his own instrument of torture, in Jesus' case it was the heavy crossbeam of a cross. But the soldiers didn't want a prisoner to die on the way up the hill to his crucifixion because that would spare him from the planned cruel torture of a deliberately slow and painful execution. A criminal was crucified in a public place to serve as a warning and deterrent to would-be evildoers. Jesus was already staggering under the weight of the crossbeam and falling repeatedly from extreme weakness after his agonizing, prolonged scourging by the soldiers.

In various translations of this biblical passage Simon was said to have been “pressed into service” or “seized” or “compelled.” He obviously didn't volunteer; he had no choice. He was forced at the point of a spear. 

Why would the gospel writer Mark so precisely identify him that he even recorded the names of his sons and that he had come to Jerusalem from “the country” or “the fields.”  Since Mark wrote for Jewish believers, it is likely that by the time he wrote the gospel story the inclusion of the names of his sons in Mark 15:21 may suggest that they were well known and of some standing in the Early Christian community. Tradition says that Simon's sons Rufus and Alexander became missionaries of the gospel. It has also been suggested that the Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13 is the son of Simon of Cyrene. 

Libya is separated from the Holy Land by Egypt. Simon would have had to cross Egypt by land or come by sea. Libya was under Roman rule at that time but there was a Greek colony in North Libya along the Mediterranean Sea with a large settlement of Judean Jews. Most of Libya is covered by the Sahara desert except for that special long strip of Northern coastline where eighty percent of Libya's people live. Cyrene became an early center of Christianity in the centuries after the Church began to spread. Some also link Simon with the "men of Cyrene" in Acts 11:20 who preached the gospel to the Greeks—the Cyrenians would have known how to speak Greek. 

Why was Simon there in the crowd that was following Jesus to Golgotha? Were his sons with him? Were they adults or children? Was he a common laborer or a wealthy foreign businessman? Was he a Jew from the diaspora or a dark-skinned Libyan native? Was Simon a believer in Jesus already when he carried Jesus' cross? Was he a devout Jew on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover according to the requirement of Judaism? Or was he only a curious pagan caught up in the drama of a Roman execution until he became part of what was a life-changing event for himself and his sons and perhaps his heritage for generations to come?

Simon, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Did you stay at the cross after you carried it up the hill for Jesus and watch salvation history unfold? Were your sons at the crucifixion with you? “Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?” Did you become a Christian as a result of seeing Jesus die on the cross or later, perhaps after hearing the witness of the disciples proclaiming Jesus' resurrection? (Someone ought to write a novel about this man!)

Simon,“Were you there when the Holy Spirit came?” Were you among the 120 in the Upper Room? In the biblical account of the birth of the Church on Pentecost in Acts chapter two, in the list of places from which people were present at the event, “the districts of Libya near Cyrene” was noted. Simon, “Were you there in the Upper Room?” We can only speculate.

What is the take-away insight for us from this special event? In His suffering humanity and to accomplish His mission from His Father, Jesus allowed Simon to help carry His cross. He could have called ten thousand angels to strengthen Him to carry the heavy cross, but He permitted and welcomed a mortal man to help Him. In His teaching before the crucifixion Jesus spoke about the necessity of taking up our cross and following Him. (Matthew 16:24) On the way to Golgotha Simon didn't carry his own cross; he carried Jesus' cross.

We can't do what Simon did. We can't carry Jesus' cross. Jesus gave His life once for all on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and to obtain eternal life for us. So then, how can we bear Jesus' cross for Him now? Jesus declared that whatsoever we do for others or to others, we do as if we did it unto Him. The Lord receives it as literally done to Him! (Matthew 25:35-46) In practice then, we are to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Each of us has a unique personal cross to bear as well as burdens, afflictions, and problems. There is a sense in which we must with courage and God's enabling accept and bear our own cross, the cross that God has given us in His love. By this we glorify Him and give witness to Him. However, there is a further sense in which we should reach out in love and compassion to help others shoulder their crosses as Simon of Cyrene did for Jesus. By so doing, we are privileged to partake in Jesus' suffering, “For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29)

YOUR UNIQUE CROSS

The everlasting God has, in His wisdom,
foreseen from eternity the cross
that He now presents to you
as a gift from His inmost heart.

This cross He now sends you
He has considered with His all-knowing eyes,
understood with His loving mind,
tested with His wise justice,
warmed with His loving arms,
and weighed with His own hands,
to see that it be not one inch too large
and not one ounce too heavy for you.

He has blessed it with His holy name,
anointed it with His grace,
perfumed it with His consolation,
taken one last glance at you and your courage,
and then sent it to you from Heaven,
a special greeting from God to you,
an alms of the all-merciful love of God.
 
Saint Francis de Sales
1567-1622