A friend told me once Christ didn’t ask us to pick up our feather pillows and follow him. But I heard a pastor say once that Jesus has a beautiful plan for my life and you can understand the confusion swirling about in my soul.

I tell someone recently that I want to adorn the gospel, I want to make it look beautiful, and he looks right down at me and says, “You can’t.” I turn my head sideways and challenge him. “You can’t.” He says. “You’re going to fail because it’s not your job to make the gospel look beautiful; Christ is the only one who can do that.”

It’s okay to carry a cross, I think, as long as I’m stripping and sanding and priming and repainting it all the way. As long as I take it down to its barebones, deep in its sap filled lines, its grooves and knots, down to its natural way, I will carry this cross. Stripping it of the effects of modernity and church-culture, catch phrases and empty, “I’ll pray for yous.” Repainting it beautifully. Showing it to be something that doesn’t hurt, not when you lift with your knees or carry it this way or that.

I want to make theology sayable, that’s the whole purpose and vision of my life. I want to make real what seems unreachable, ethereal, intangible. I want to turn words over in my mouth until they are palatable and show you how it matters that we feed ourselves on rich, nutrient-filled, whole gospel. This is the beautiful cross I want to carry.

But what happens when it is not beautiful?

What happens when Christ says in this life you will have sorrow. You will have persecution. You will not see in whole. What happens then?

When the beautiful plan for my life means trudging up a long and lonely hill, to a place of death over and over again, carrying a cross that is not pretty, is not perfect, is not comfortable?

What happens when what God says is true pushes me into tight places, uncomfortable choices, unpopular votes? Into the full ugliness of a brutal cross? What then?

What then?

cross

There are some things about faith that are not beautiful, friend. There are going to be unpopular decisions ahead of you; times when you doubt the goodness of God in the land of the living. You are going to stumble under the weight of what He’s asked you to do and I want you to know something: that’s okay.

The gospel is beautiful. It is. It is almost fairy-tale in its beauty—only it’s true. Our King is coming, reigning, taking dominion over the brokenness we see around us—and we are living a vapor. There are some aspects Gospel Living that do not seem beautiful until we’ve pressed through, been refined, & have seen Christ in all His fullness.

If you are His child, in this life you will have trouble. But your King is on His throne and He knows whose names are held more dearly to Him than anything you treasure here on earth.

He goes before, He fights for you, He protects His own, and He makes it more beautiful than we can imagine.

 

 

20 comments

  1. Tanya Marlow

    I love the questions you raise here – what does it mean to live a life that adorns the gospel whilst saying ‘He must become greater; I must become less?’ Is the one linked to the other?

    I love your writing, Lore.

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    • Thank you Tanya. I think they are linked. I haven’t figured it out yet, for sure, but I know they’re linked =)

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  2. This is beautiful. I needed it this morning. Thank you.

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  3. Yes. These are beautiful words not stripped of their power. Thank you.

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  4. YES. My recent post was so similar in theme and tone – we are on the same lines these days. Great writing, my friend.

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  5. Bonnie

    I think it is in the difficult things that He allows to besiege us that we do the most questioning, murmuring, grumbling, complaining, ET al. But it is the Comforter who is given in Jesus’ absence who comes to us, and prays for us in words we cannot comprehend, and presents us faultless before the Throne of God. It is in these times that I am stretched into becoming more like Him. The ugliness of the cross purifies my soul in ways i cannot fathom, if I allow it. The question becomes, to whom do I turn? Myself or the Holy Spirit?

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    • Bonnie, yes. Like Peter we ask to whom else do we turn? I’m so grateful He’s the only one worth following. Thank you for reading =)

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  6. Beautiful, as always.

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  7. I love it! This is the second thing I’ve read by you and have been challenged in my faith to really dig deeper and live TRUTH. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Trevor, thank you! Praying you dig and He gives grace =)

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  8. Great post Lore. As a pastor I so want to tell people that life will be easy and wonderful. But then I reflect on the life of Paul and the hardships he endured. We must understand that God provides his joy in the midst of hardship not in its absence. Dying to self and taking up our cross is not easy, but our God is faithful.

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    • John, we just finished up the book of Acts in a class I’m in, and all I could think at the end was what a human Paul was. Human and called—that’s what he was and that’s what we are. God knows what we need, when we need it.

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  9. Lore, I love your thinking & writing! You have a gift and I’m encouraged that you use it to point to the beauty of Jesus.

    Also, this post reminded me of a book I read recently…Telling The Truth by Frederick Beuchner. I think you’d really enjoy it if you haven’t read it.

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    • Brandon, thank you! Really. I LOVE Beuchner’s Telling the Truth! It’s on my list of books to read again this year, but really any Beuchner is loved by me. Thanks for reading, truly =)

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