“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’”
I am thankful I decided to follow Jesus when I was seven years old, some thirty-seven (as of the time of this writing) years ago. I knew with all of my heart that there was a God Who loved me and gave His Son so that I would live forever in Heaven. Since then, my journey with Jesus has progressed, admittedly with a few steps backward and sideways at times. At this moment, however, I find that I am experiencing a season of profound growth. I’m thinking about my faith and my journey with Jesus in new ways.
This morning I was listening to Mass being said on EWTN, and the above verse was part of the Gospel reading. As I listened, it struck me that the decision to follow Jesus can be simple enough that a young child can understand it, but can be serious, heavy, and complex enough to ponder and explore for the rest of someone’s adult life.
In the light of Jesus’ warning, the reality that we must take up our ‘cross’–our personal failings, trials, and doubts–makes this commitment a serious one. Looked at from the outside, such an undertaking seems rather dire. Give up everything? Everyone? All the things I hold dear–even my very life? Who would agree to that?
And yet, that’s the beauty of following Jesus. He promises help for the journey. He promises wisdom. We walk alongside countless others who have dedicated their lives to Jesus, received a cross, and are carrying it faithfully to leave it at the gate of Heaven. He is not a crooked salesman, making something look attractive to get you to buy into it only to surprise you with the fine print later. The Ten Commandments were a preview of the life that Jesus’ followers were to expect.
We must also keep in mind that taking up our cross is not a one-time thing; in fact, our crosses will most likely change over time. Sometimes it may seem like a small crucifix you could hold in your hand; other times it may seem to be made of stone that you’re barely able to drag around with all of your strength. We will have the opportunity to count the cost every day. The wonderful thing is that if we are following Him faithfully, we will see our ‘tower’ rise from foundation to roof.
When we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, whether we are five or fifty, He allows us to grow into our relationship. As we trust Him more and more over time, we see that even though there is a cost to follow Him, we understand that we are not alone. He gives us strength and courage. He reminds us that He has walked our paths before us. He has everything we need so that we will one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”