Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published March 13, 2004. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
Church folks often talk about having a “cross to bear.” The phrase probably takes on a different meaning with each individual. I recently read a story about a woman who thought her cross was more unbearable than those of other people.
One night, she dreamed she was taken by an angel into a beautiful lush meadow filled with crosses of every size, shape and description.
“You may discard the cross on your back and choose the one you want to wear for the rest of your life,” the heavenly messenger told her.
The first cross to catch her eye was one adorned with pearls and precious jewels. How it sparkled in the warm morning sun! “Surely, this is the one I want to wear,” she said, eagerly lifting the brilliant masterpiece to her shoulders. Alas, the heavy stones added so much weight, the slender, petite woman could barely walk.
Reluctantly, she set it aside and moved toward one covered with flowers in an array of brilliant colors. “Ah, that’s the one I want. The flowers are beautiful and they have hardly any weight at all. Yes, this is the cross I want to bear,” she told the angel.
Once the beam of flowers was on her back, however, the woman realized there were many hidden thorns and prickly leaves among the blossoms. With even the slightest movement, they pierced her soft, delicate flesh. “Oh, dear, I’ll never be able to tolerate this for the rest of my life,” she said, quickly shedding her latest burden.
She spent hours shopping among the varieties of crosses and finally settled on one much different from all the rest. The small, plain cross matched her tiny frame perfectly, and the weight blended so well with her own, the woman scarcely knew the cross was there.
Just before awakening from her dream, the woman suddenly realized the cross she had chosen was the very one she was wearing at the beginning of her dream. Her heavenly messenger suddenly appeared to explain the paradox.
“You see,” the angel said, “the cross made for you by the Master Designer took all of your measurements, your temperament and your strengths and weaknesses into consideration. It is tailor-made for you alone. If you wear it well, it will be your teacher throughout life. It is not designed to be a burden, but a source of blessing. It is designed to transform you over time into the image of Christ.”
The parable reminded me that how I view my crosses — the unpredictable circumstances that come to me every day — determines their impact on my spiritual life. When I choose to carry a grudge, bear ill will toward someone or labor under the weight of unforgiveness, my cross drags me down into the quicksand of despair.
When I choose to put down those things and pick up love, pardon and a passion for reconciliation, the weight of my cross suddenly disappears.
One thing I know for sure — bearing a cross is a lot easier than bearing a grudge.