April 26, 2013
Fanny Crosby, the great blind hymn writer of a hundred years ago, wrote a hymn called “Keep Thou My Way”. Here it is in its entirety:
Keep Thou my way, O Lord, be Thou ever nigh;
Strong is Thy mighty arm, weak and frail am I;
Then, my unchanging Friend, on Thee, my hopes depend,
Till life’s brief day shall end, be Thou ever nigh.
Keep Thou my heart, O Lord, ever close to Thee;
Safe in Thine arms of love, shall my refuge be;
Then, over a tranquil tide, my bark shall safely glide;
I shall be satisfied, ever close to Thee.
Keep Thou my all, O Lord, hide my life in Thine;
O let Thy sacred light over my pathway shine;
Kept by Thy tender care, gladly the cross I’ll bear;
Hear Thou and grant my prayer, hide my life in Thine.
Some versions have the end of the next to the last line as “…gladly the cross I’d bear….”
A little boy came home from Sunday school and his mother asked him what he had learned. He said they sang a new song about ‘Gladly, the bear’! “And he’s cross-eyed, mom!”
Can you see where he got that? Kinda cute, huh? But the truth in Fanny Crosby’s hymn is the secret of The Light Yoke about which we talked in the last blog. Jesus said this in Mark 8:34-37:
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall
lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall
it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what
shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Take up your cross and follow Jesus. What is the cross which He directs you to carry? Some think it is the physical malady with which they are afflicted. Some say it is a grouchy husband or a nagging wife, or some other such burden. That is not the cross which we are to carry!
If you were in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, and you saw a man, surrounded by soldiers and a jeering crowd, and he was carrying a cross (or the cross beam of a cross) toward the city gate, what would you know about that man? He was going out to die! He had no future of His own!
When Jesus tells His follower to “…take up his cross, and follow me,” He is telling us to follow Him out to die! …to die to ourselves so we can live for God! More specifically, He is saying that we are to die to ourselves – our own wills, plans, dreams – so He can live through us!
This is the secret of exchanging your heavy burdens for the Lord’s light and easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). He takes it all from your shoulders, your burdens and even the burden of yourself – trying to run your own life. And although the cross can seem to be very painful, it is the only way we can put to death ourselves so His will can be done through us.
And what is His will for you? Specifically, I cannot say, for that is between you and the Lord. But generally I think there is no better scripture that shows us what He intends to do in us and through us than what is written in Jeremiah 29:11 through 14:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will
call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek
me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you….
Does that sound light and easy to you? I want Him and His will for my life, even if it means I carry my cross and follow Him out to die. Yes, it is painful to go to the cross and be crucified. But the result will be wonderfully worth it! So Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear! …I mean, gladly the cross I’d bear!