I was struck immediately when I read the words of author and writer Nathan Bennett last Thursday who expressed thanks for American soldiers and then added, “I AM REALLY WANTING TO GIVE HONOR to the soldiers of the cross also.”
Nathan mentioned the invisible group of intercessors who carried the cross of Christ so that revival would happen and the Gospel of the Kingdom be preached with authority and power. Nathan said, “THESE SOLDIERS have always controlled world events…and receive no recognition–and this is as it should be. My real thrust and appeal is to enlist a few more to this most vital, earth shaking and policy making group of God’s inter-circle. THERE IS NO GREATER MINISTRY. Without these, the talkers and the singers are powerless…and ALL of their production and presentation is like a “sound of brass and the clang of a cymbal.”
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”
What does that mean?
Jesus obediently carried his cross after asking his father, “If it’s possible, let this cup pass from me.” Jesus walked through a sea of offended people when he carried his cross toward Calvary. He denied himself and chose to love.
I write about martyrs for Jesus Christ in magazines and books. Sometimes, the life of the martyr is difficult for the American Christian to comprehend. Our persecutions are small here compared to those experienced by Christians in Pakistan, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, China, and North Korea. But they are, nevertheless, real and a cross to be carried.
The cross comes in many shapes, sizes, and circumstances. Perhaps our cross calls us to:
- Care for a terminally ill family member
- Remain faithful in a marriage that is unfulfilling
- Love a child, stepchild, student, or foster child that does not return my love
- Carry the dual burden of prayer and trust in God for a rebellious teenager
- Obey God in leading a group, when I’d rather not
- Sit in the back row because God is showing me it is not my time to lead right now
- Leave a church, job, or geographic location when I’d rather stay
- Stay in a church, job, or geographic location when I’d rather go
- Love a parent, step parent, or pastor who doesn’t affirm me or love me like God designed parents and pastors to love
- Let go of a close friendship that is not leading me closer to Christ
- Forgive people who hurt me, disagree with me, or are imperfect in some way that annoys me
Is this to say God’s working to make us miserable? God forbid! But he is a God of perfect timing, and his calendar is set to his seasons, not ours. Oh to have a Christian who dares to live on God’s calendar, keeping God’s appointments! I want to challenge each of us to live like that, and we can do it if we meet with Him daily at the Tree of Life and get our “marching orders” from heaven.
There are others who carry the cross of Jesus. Like Nathan Bennett, I would like to honor the soldiers of the cross. Perhaps you’d like to join me in remembering a Christian soldier from the past–George Washington Carver. This portrait was painted by a godly couple named Doug and Norma Latta. Click the picture below for his story.