Why the Way of Grace is the Easiest and the Hardest

Why the Way of Grace is the Easiest and the Hardest

Christ himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, ‘Take up your cross’….Next minute he says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ He means both….

{C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity}

Today is about reflection. At the end of this third week in our word study, I want you to spend some time reflecting on what the Lord has shown you. I will share my reflection of what I am learning about what we carry and why this is both easy and hard.

When I began the word study for this week on the theme “carried,” I was reluctant in much to write. I found it difficult to move forward on the idea that our Shepherd, Jesus, carries us in times when we are weary, and yet all around me the troubles continue to come.

This is the way I sometimes imagine my good Shepherd, like the photos you see in a children’s Bible of Jesus carrying a little lamb upon his shoulders. In my weakness this image comforts me. When a loved one is sick in the hospital, awaiting surgery, I find peace in gazing upon the mural of a shepherd who carries the lambs.

But there is another way of following the Shepherd that my soul wrestles with. It’s the place where the Shepherd puts me down on solid ground and leads me beside him through the dark valley, through the treacherous rocky hills, and through the storm—through persecution, nakedness, and hardship—what then?

I wrestle, because I want to stay safe and cozy, snuggled up to my Shepherd in the meadow by the stream. I want him to give me the comfortable path where he carries me when my feet are weary.

But there is a better way, like he told our friend Much-Afraid in Hinds Feet on High Places“I could carry you all the way up to the High Places myself, instead of leaving you to climb there. But if I did, you would never be able to develop hinds’ feet, and become my companion and go where I go.”

My Shepherd says “follow me” to the high places; here are your companions, Sorrow and Suffering. Anyone who says they will follow him must be willing to carry their own cross.

I work hard to earn comfort in life. I want to avoid looking at the cross and consider what the Lord means when he tells me to pick it up. Jesus warns his disciples in Luke 14:27 to count the cost—consider what you must be willing to give, what you must carry.

I have been thinking about what following my Shepherd costs me in the lives of others. How what I give up is really giving out the life of Christ in me. That I must be willing to carry the burdens of others, just as Christ carried our suffering in his body.

Maybe our suffering and brokenness begin a kind of healing when we enter into the suffering and brokenness of the world, right through the brokenness and givenness of Christ. –Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life

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Isn’t this the way we fulfill the law of Christ—give away grace? And what is the most perfect way? It was my daughter’s memory verse at school this week: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” {MARK 12:30-31}

I reflected this week on the way others have carried my burdens when I was broken. The friend who stood beside me at the funeral for my brother-in-law; she listened as I cried hard over unanswered questions. There were those who wept with me in the waiting through pregnancy loss; and the kindred friend who welcomed my calls in the night to pour out my brokenness on her listening shoulders.

There was the momma who hardly knew me. Yet she came over when I suffered a serious infection; brought her girls to entertain my toddler and fold my laundry and vacuum the carpet. Then there was the time I brought her dinner with a warm embrace when she thought her marriage was over (praise the Lord he restored them).

There was the mystery basket by our door, filled with gift cards to carry us through Christmas when we were unemployed. And the stranger who gave us a living tree to put our presents under. This is the true gift of being carried, that when we are weak we are made strong. And we answer with thanks as we carry the burdens of others. Just as He first loved us and gave Himself up for us, we gladly carry our cross.

Givenness does not define or prove our value, but lets us feel the defining value of love. Givenness changes our body because we become part of His body. –Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life

Reflection

Spend some time today reflecting on what you have learned through the word study this week on our theme “carried”. Write down your thoughts in a journal.

What have you learned about how Christ carries you in weakness?

What have you learned about carrying the burdens of others?

Have you found any new scriptures in this study that blessed you? Which one was your favorite?

Please leave your comments below. Then share with some one else who needs encouragement!

 

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