A Certain Man from Cyrene

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?



  1. Amy Young June 1, 2016

    As a fan of my plans, I get this M’Lynn. I think I’m all generous and go-with-the flow, but what I mean is “as long as it doesn’t cost me too much or get me too off course.” I love how you point out the “carry” in “carry on.”

    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      Thanks, Amy. And, I love your picture of the woman walking a narrow path with the buckets of water you shared in your Grove post. I can SEE it! It’s beautiful and inspiring. A much calmer picture of “carry on” than Simon walking beside the bleeding Lord. But, there’s truth and reality in both pictures. Your picture is reminding me that God does indeed lead us beside still waters…as we carry on and as we carry our cross.

  2. Hadassah June 2, 2016

    Definitely food for thought!  No one likes to be stretched out of their comfort zone, for sure, and I can completely understand not wanting my routine to be messed with. We have to consider the littles, right?!?!  But, wow, what about God?  How many times have I resisted being Simon for Him?  Hard to think about.  But, worth it!  Thanks for your honesty, M’Lynn!  You definitely aren’t alone in this, and your being willing to be vulnerable may just be another one of your Simon moments in the hands of God.

    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      Hadassah, I’m glad I’m not alone! Thanks for your encouraging comment. It’s good to hear from you!

  3. Ashley Felder June 2, 2016

    A great post, M’Lynn! Now I want to go study about Simon. I’ll be thinking about him and his interrupted plans for a while. I already often think about unmet expectations…this falls right in with that. Simon definitely didn’t expect to walk along the King of Kings that day. But what a great reminder that He invites us to walk beside Him daily…if only we would be willing to let go of our expectations, plans, and to-do lists.

    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      Thanks, Ashley. I just can’t get Simon out of my head! It’s so intriguing and challenging.

  4. Lisa June 2, 2016

    This reminds me of something a friend in Bible school once said, “We all like to think we’re Moses, but most of us are part of the rabble of complaining Israelites.” Simon of Cyrene is a bit actor in God’s great story. But – the beautiful thing – there ARE bit actors in God’s great story. Even if we have five minutes or an afternoon in the pages of Scripture – or no time at all – we’re still part of God’s story. We don’t have to be Moses or one of the inner circle of God’s disciples. I’ve been reading Jeremiah and I was lately struck by mention of another prophet of God that I’d never heard of (end of chapter 26). He was faithful to God, but he didn’t write a book of the Bible and so we don’t know about him like we know about Jeremiah. I think I’m getting something a little different out of the text than you are – but what I see is that there are no insignificant people or events to build His kingdom and tell His story. Often that requires humility on our part, allowing God to interrupt our own stories in the process. In Simon’s case, quite literally an interruption. 🙂

    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      “Bit Actor.” I love that. Makes me think that when we first catch the vision to GO and serve, we all like to think we’re J. Hudson Taylor or William Carey, but actually most of us have a much much  much much much smaller role than they did! But like you said, we’re all a part of the bigger story and that’s so encouraging. And…yeah…interruptions. I’m so not good at being interrupted. My plans are GOOD…why do they keep changing?? My prayer today is that God would give me grace to daily accept and anticipate interruptions so I’d be more sensitive to the nudging that “T” describes in her comment, below.

  5. Jenilee June 2, 2016

    This post really spoke to me today! I didn’t realize that Simon was forced into carrying that cross. I feel forced into some situations and this helps put it all into focus. And that verse from the MSG about leading us into radical life change. So good for me to read today! thank you!

    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      Jenilee, a month after writing this post and it is still blowing my mind. FORCED. Wonder if there was a struggle? Did they hold him at spear point or smack him around because he refused the first time (all my imagination here…)?

  6. Natalia June 2, 2016

    “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.”

    Definitely can identify with these words. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It was very encouraging and as others have expressed, I also want to study this story more.

    Hadassah’s question also struck me, “How many times have I resisted being Simon for Him?”

    I am so thankful to be part of this group. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your experiences running this race with our loving Father.


    1. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

      Natalia, thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 I’m glad you were encouraged by this. It can be hard to share the hard stuff, but I do it in hopes that it can pull someone else out of isolation. Praying for you as you carry on!

  7. T June 2, 2016

    So, everybody–guess what!?!  Simon from Cyrene is from modern-day Lib7ya, a place where there are very few bros and sisters today.  I have heard that this story (and that the early ch knew his sons, so they were part of fellowship) has given them a boost in their identities.  (kind of like they’ve gone back to their roots by believing, instead of always being condemned as having turned their backs on their countrymen and race).  N. Africa was important in early ch apologetics and determining the canon (producing Tertilian and Augustine, as well as Cyprian), and I’m not sure how it spread, but Simon and his kids could have helped in that.  Remember that Ray Boltz song from the 80’s–Watch the Lamb?  It is about Simon and his boys.  Still a tear jerker!  🙂

    But, yes, M’Lynn to what you wrote about being done and wondering when and how and for how long it is okay to let the routine go and yes to hard times with homework after supper because I allowed something or was flexible.  Complicated!  We do have the HSpirit in us…I’d like to get better at relying on the moment to moment inspiration (like was that a nudge to put supper in the crock pot earlier?  or should i just buy rotisserie chicken now?  aargh!).


  8. M'Lynn June 3, 2016

    T…thank you for the history lesson. So good! And…yes! I can get so caught up in my plans I forget to stop and look and listen for those nudges. I’m thankful for your reminder.

  9. Tracey June 4, 2016

    Thanks for this; I needed it.  I’ve been helping/leading in something my heart’s not in for a couple of months, filling in a hole, and I’ve struggled with guilt over not feeling passionate about it.  It feels more like I’ve been ‘forced’ because of circumstances.  So, maybe it’s ok to feel that way, and to do it anyway.  Feelings are secondary, and God can work through less-than-enthusiastic obedience.  Now to work on my attitude. . . .

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