Day 290: The Cross (A Poem based on Luke 9:23)

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24

Through the Bible: Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9

I first wrote this poem in 1985, when I was a senior in high school. It was the first thing I ever wrote that got published. I was living a double life–acting one way with my youth group friends, but acting like a different person on the weekends. I wanted so much to fit in with the popular crowd, and there were several Friday night parties where I thought I could just set aside my Christian persona. But I never took off the cross I always wore. One Saturday morning I came face to face with the inconsistency and hypocrisy of this, and I scribbled this poem in my journal.

That was more than half a lifetime ago, and I still deal with hypocrisy and inconsistency. Maybe that’s why every time I look at this poem, I revise it a little. I’m still trying to get the knack of carrying my cross instead of just wearing it. If that’s your story too, then I pray this encourages you.

I wear a cross around my neck
I always have, and I suspect
I always will. Because, you see, 
The cross reminds me that I'm free
 
The crossbar runs from side to side
And holds the arms spread open wide
The call goes out from east to west:
"Love all those which I loved best."
 
When I see the beam upended,
I see the One who hung suspended.
The rugged post points to the sky:
He came from there, to here, to die.
 
But the cross is tarnished, and friends have seen
That the one who wears it is not so clean
So many times, the one who wore it
Looked nothing like the One who bore it. 
Each time my life His Word ignores
I trinket that which killed my Lord. 
 
Herein, a mystery contained:
A symbol of freedom hangs from a chain. 
Reminding me that, though I'm saved,
For me to be free I must first be a slave
I see the cross and hear its cry.
This cross of life calls me to die. 
 
So maybe the reason my life's a wreck
Is, I only wear it ‘round my neck
And I won't find peace till I get the knack
Of bearing my cross, instead, on my back. 

Author: James

I pastor Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, and be the best father/grandfather I can be. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

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