I’ve been a mess lately. Completely wrecked. I’ve honestly been questioning whether or not it’s worth it to feel all the feelings. Something happened to me after the Velvet Ashes retreat and it was followed up by the week of “Edge” posts. I guess I actually gave myself permission to get closer to the edge than I’m comfortable with. I allowed myself to feel all the feelings. I cried in the shower, I cried in the rain, I cried at Starbucks. I can’t even believe I’m admitting it.
But, it all comes back to this: I’m finding myself in a place where I don’t want to be…emotionally and physically. I’m feeling done.
But then, there’s this: “Abba, Father, Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 NIV)
And this: “God is kind, but He’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (Romans 2:4 The Message)
I’ve been thinking about Simon the Cyrene a lot. Have you ever stopped to think about that guy? There he was, minding his own business (probably on his way home from the countryside) just trying to go home and do his thing. But God wouldn’t have it. He put Simon in the exact right place at the exact right time so that he was pulled into the drama that changed history: the Passion of the Christ.
“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexader and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Mark 15:21
I had always imagined Simon as one who had been following along in the background of the crowd trailing Jesus out to Golgotha. I didn’t realize he never chose to be part of the scene at all
But God reached out and grabbed him and changed his story forever. Can you imagine? Simon was forced to carry the cross for Jesus. At this point, Jesus had been beaten beyond recognition and was too weak to carry anything but his own weight. Simon witnessed the world killing God’s one and only Son in the most horrible way imaginable.
Now I think we can go on to assume Simon wasn’t a disciple of Jesus at that point, but I wonder what happened to him later. The apostles know his name because it’s written in 3 of the 4 gospels. Mark even mentions the name of Simon’s children. This makes me think that Simon and his whole family later became followers of Christ. I’ll put it on my to-do list to find out what history knows about Simon, but that’s my assumption for today.
I’m fascinated as I think of what it was like for Simon to walk beside the dying Lord. Knowing Jesus, I’m sure he encouraged Simon with even one look as they made the excruciating journey to the murder hill. Simon had to have changed that day. Even the Roman centurion who witnessed the crucifixion, heard Jesus’ last cry and saw how he died proclaimed “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
God is in control of every story, and how good it was of him to include Simon in the passion of the Christ. How good He is to include me in the saving work of the cross. Can you feel the weight of that drama, the daily suffering that is obedience to Jesus’ invitation to daily deny yourself and pick up your cross? (see Luke 9:23-24)
I’ve recently struggled with the desire to do the good works God puts in my path. By saying “yes” to something other than my family, I’m throwing my whole routine out of whack. And, I’m a person who lives and dies by my routine. So it’s not pretty at all when it’s messed with. Even by God.
So, I said “yes” and walked in obedience to go do a thing that was big to me, but probably small in the scheme of things. Still, I willingly went and did my part. I whole-heartedly participated in the thing I felt God had asked me to do and breathed a sigh of relief when it was over. “Okay, I thought. Check that off the list. Now let’s get back to the routine.”
That evening, dinner was late to the table so the second grader had to study spelling words after 7 pm which in turn cued a huge family freak out. I was still freaking out the next morning and blamed the whole thing on God asking me to do something I don’t normally do.
Here’s where the processing started. I began to wonder if the way I act when our routine is out of whack is enough evidence that I shouldn’t ever do anything that requires an emotional and time investment beyond the little budge room I’ve allowed in my current routine.
But here’s where God started to mess with me. I read Mark 15. I saw how God put Simon right in the middle of the drama. God’s agenda trumped Simon’s. The blip in his normal routine was worth it from the kingdom perspective.
My struggle pales in comparison, but God used this scene to show me that sometimes He’s going to drop an opportunity in my lap or pull me unwillingly into some team drama or ask me to stay one more year– and I need to go after it whether it’s in my plan or not! And here is my chance to actively participate (with fear and trembling) in my own salvation (see Philippians 2:12-13) and do the thing Jesus asks me to do: pick up my cross and follow him.
Has God been messing with your routine or expectations even as you attempt to carry on?
Can you relate to Simon the Cyrene?