Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pray a-Cross Missouri (Part One)

Thursday, as I was turning from 291 onto 50 Highway, I saw a van with a door magnet reading, “Carry your Cross.” At first, I thought, “That must be a Christian construction company.” (I have no idea why I decided it must be a construction company.) Then the light dawned and I remembered that Pray a-Cross Missouri had just started; that day men were carrying it 10 miles from Lee’s Summit to Lone Jack. As I passed the van, I saw the 85 pound cross, carried by a small group of men, including my pastor, Jerry, and our friend, Jayme.

I continued home and did some work around the house. A few hours later I took my daughters to piano lessons at church. Within a few minutes of my arrival they carried the cross up the Lone Jack exit. Jerry and Jayme, with the help of some other men along the way, had walked the entire ten mile journey. My husband arose early Friday morning and went to meet up with the cross as it left Lone Jack. He helped carry it the four miles from F Highway to W Highway. I’ve asked each of these men to share their thoughts about the experience:

Jayme said he “felt like God was right there walking with us, challenging us to continue on with that symbol, even though we were dead tired.” He was encouraged as people passed by, honked, and waved. He knew God was flowing through their hearts and their minds, making them feel His love. Despite Jayme’s sore muscles and tired body last night, he says, “I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!” Jayme, a strong young man, also shared that although the cross was heavy, “it was nothing compared to the weight of the sin of the world” that Christ carried upon His shoulders. That thought not only carried him through to the end of the ten miles, but in the days since has made him realize how much he wants to live for Jesus every day.

Jerry shared that while he walked he never wondered, “What are people passing by going to think of me.” His focus during the ten mile journey was all on Jesus as he prayed for his children and grandchildren not only to know Jesus as their Savior but to experience a life-changing radical passion for Jesus. He focused on Jesus as he prayed for the members of our church and our community. He focused on Jesus as he prayed for all the residents of the state of Missouri that they would accept Jesus’ gift of salvation.

Ralph, another member of our church, joined Jayme and Jerry for part of the walk. Being a man who is, um, not quite as young as Jayme, he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to pull the heavy cross for any distance. He asked himself before starting, “Am I going to have the strength to do this?” As he started he realized God gave him the strength he needed and he was able to go far beyond what he expected. As he has thought about his experience he shares that the cross had a wheel at the bottom to make it easier to pull for hundreds of miles. It also has padding where it rests on the shoulder. The cross of Christ didn’t have those amenities but Jesus didn’t do it for comfort. He did it for us.

Jimmy described the experience as humbling, a privilege, and an honor. Although it was 45℉ and pouring down rain, the discomfort and suffering he felt didn’t compare to the suffering Christ endured when He carried the true cross. As he started walking, the journey was a struggle. His legs burned, the wind and rain whipped his face, and he grew colder as his pants became drenched. After a short time though, as he struggled up hills, he said, “God’s amazing power and strength came upon me.” After that, he never wanted to stop. He felt as if he could keep going for miles, despite the weather conditions. As he approached the end of his part of the journey, our girls and I were there waiting for him. As he came over a hill and saw us waiting, he began to cry as he considered his unconditional love for our daughters and realized it’s nothing compared to the unconditional love that Christ has for us.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Corinthians 4:10).

Click here to read the second part of this article...

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