My Journey to the Cross

I sit down at the dining room table, hoping to set my heart at ease. Maybe if I spread these thoughts on paper, my mind will stop taking me ’round in circles.

My search engine had already led me on quite a maze. A road that led to confusion, more questions, and no answers whatsoever. Clearly, that path was not working for me.

Armed only with a notepad, pen and Bible, I begin to create my map. With me at the starting point, the cross at the end, and Lent being the territory in-between. My goal is finding the best path for me.

It seems natural to begin by listing that which I believe to be true. The best reasons for me to give effort to this process in the first place. For I didn’t grow up with the tradition of Lent engrained in me. Yet upon reflection, the purposes of such a journey seem to make it worthwhile:

* To prepare my heart for the significance of Easter.

* To see but a glimpse of what my Savior experienced. For me.

* To make my life more about Him and less about me.

My pen stops flowing. I cannot write any more. I had a dozen more in mind, but that last reason in and of itself makes every effort worth it.

Yes, to increase Christ and decrease self — that’s worth striving for.

I find myself writing in caps lock: HOW???

Easy answers come first. Giving up a luxury of sorts for 40 days would be annoying, but doable. It would take true effort to make the sacrifice worth it — striving to make sure I focused on Him while I skipped whatever I chose to shed.

That I could do. I’ve done it before. And I fill up the page of ideas with ease.

But does it get me to my ultimate goal?
To become less so He can fill more of me?

My answer: Temporarily at best. Which might be a good start. I try to draw the map in front of me, realizing it only leads to dead ends. This won’t do, for I want more. I need more of Him long-term.

No, a 40 day sacrifice is not going to cut it. This year,  I’m going to strive to peel back layers. To shed more of me. And when I get to the cross, I’ll hand the scales over. For keeps.

Can I do that? What does that look like? What can I shed that I won’t pick back up again?

My companion doubt offers to take over. And I nearly let him as I tear the map out of my notebook, fully intending to throw it away.

And then I’m reminded once again. This was my year. The year to be intentional. This is something I need to do.

I smooth out the crumpled map, my lips curl upwards as I envision unfolding a great treasure map.

Yes, this will be my map. My key to discovering the greatest treasure available to me: Christ.

I best get busy. I’ve got some serious travel plans of self-denial to make. I hope you’ll come along for my journey.

How about you? What can you leave at the cross this year? Will you join me on striving to become less so He can fill more? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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29 thoughts on “My Journey to the Cross

  1. very thought provoking! I don’t give up things for Lent, but attempt to become more intentional with the time/things that I have. I’ve never thought about what I can LEAVE at the cross. Thank you for this, friend.

    • Thank YOU, Aurie, for sharing with me. It’s something to ponder. for me at least 😉 Love that you’re more intentional! trust that prevents Easter from rushing up on you. That’s something worth striving for!

  2. “What can I shed that I won’t pick back up again”? I have these same thoughts going through my head. It’s like when I fast, and give things up, does it really draw me closer? Sometimes, I am just sacrificing, but not making the effort to draw closer. I want there to be less of me, and more of Him. Striving with you my friend.

  3. So proud of you for asking and seeking…God will reveal…I have found, for me, that it is a process, of shedding layers, and God is gracious to reveal them to me as I seek Him…the effort does not depend on me, but Him….what I bring is my willingness and obedience, and even that, I have to ask for help, His help 🙂 love to you, Nikki, as you seek Him 🙂

    • Thank you so much, sweet Dolly! You’re right…if I simply show up with a willing and obedient heart, He’ll provide what I need to take care of the rest. He’ll find the way. I just need to follow His footsteps. I value your encouragement, friend. Thank you!

  4. i live a minimal life. there’s not much in my life that stands between myself and God. the one major obstacle that i do battle with the most is the one i will strive to leave behind this year. i am choosing to leave self-hate at the foot of the cross. i choose to be drawn closer to Him by loving myself as the glorious creation He made me to be instead of wasting that time criticizing my “faults”. only by His grace can i overcome this…and isn’t that part of Lent as well? learning to trust more in Christ? Lent is a great opportunity to lean on Him as we exchange the binding things of this life for more of His abundant life! we can’t do it in and of ourselves. we must humble ourselves, admitting we have no power, and seek His perfect strength. didn’t ann voskamp call that the backwards economy of God? we get low so He can lift us up? in His economy the weak become strong. wow, i could just keep going and going. but for the sake of space, i will stop. 🙂 in a nutshell, Lent is much more meaningful than most give it credit for….but it all depends on your posture, your intentions as you go through the lenten season. seriously, i’m stopping now. 😀

    • Yet more proof we truly are kindred sisters, Ginger! Yes–I think God is asking me to leave my self-criticism at the cross as well. among other things. My intentional year is giving me more than I bargained for I tell ya 🙂
      So true–it depends on our posture. . . I’ll be bending low and am so grateful to have you along to encourage me to keep going. thank you, friend!

  5. Bold and good thoughts here. Love how you’ve linked this Lenten journey to your word for the year. My word for 2012 is connect, and so many ideas come to mind on that one. Very thought-provoking, Nikki.

  6. This idea of being intentional is really sticking with me during this season of life. When we are intentional, we are much more likely to find much-needed change. I need to be intentional about leaving it all at the cross rather than being intentional about doing it all on my own!

    • So true, Katie. How our eyes open up when we intentionally put them in focus. And yes–I think I need to strive on not trying to do it all on my own as well! appreciate your encouragement, friend. thank you ❤

  7. Journey to the cross…always the destination…leaving more of ourselves behind along the way…great post…blessings as you journey…

  8. I love the way you worked this out…pen, Bible, cross,…

    I look forward to hearing more about your journey over the next few weeks. May God be gracious to us all as we seek to leave ourselves at the cross.

  9. It’s so easy to think that by fulfilling a “duty”, like a lenten fast, that it has some spiritual impact on our lives. But, in the end, it is simply a lenten fast. Nothing more.

    To sit down and ask God, “How can I allow your Spirit to change my life so that Jesus will fill more of me and I decrease into Him?” is a wonderful thing, and one that blesses the heart of our Father!

    Thanks for sharing this reminder of the goal of our walk of faith here on earth: to live the surrendered life in joy, truth and love.

    • Well, you just recapped that better than I ever could, Kate! Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to get at.
      I’m thrilled you stopped by. Thanks for blessing me today!

      All for Him,
      Nikki

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  11. I admire your bravery and your vulnerability in sharing your heart through this Lenten journey.
    I grew up in a church that practiced Lent and Holy Week, but the obligatory fast was never taught. Then I married into a family that follows all the “rules”. (My poor son, who’s birthday always falls just after Ash Wednesday, grew up with no one eating his birthday cake because they all gave up sweets for Lent, haha!) We had a season in our lives when we attended a Church that didn’t even acknowledge Lent or Advent. And while we grew spiritually there during that time, I always felt there was something missing, something ancient and foundational to the strengthening of my faith. The reasons for following the traditions of the Church calendar are often poorly understood in many denominations. Some either avoid it completely, or are much too legalistic. Since I have experienced both, I am so thankful that we now attend a church that practices all of the significant seasons associated with Christ’s life on earth and journey to the cross. There is no obligation to fast or give something up just for the sake of giving it up, but it is not discouraged either, especially when that something might be getting in the way of our relationship with Christ. The main focus is on repentance. We reflect on why it was necessary for Christ to go to the cross for us at all. And we focus on renewal, striving to be more like Him in every aspect of our lives. We look forward with great anticipation to the most important day of the year, Easter, when Christ conquers our sin and death, and rises again, victorious! I find these yearly traditions comforting reminders, encouraging us into a deeper relationship with our Savior. I usually only give up something when God lets me know that it is unhealthy for our relationship. This year, I gave up listening to podcasts at night. Even though they are usually inspirational, they delay and interrupt my sleep, so I have little energy to complete my daily duties, and spend quality time with Him. Every year I use this time to spend even more time in the Word, prayer and worship. And every year, God uses this time to peel off another layer of my self, so that I am more dependent on Him.
    I know that God will bless you richly as you walk with Him on this journey! You have such a beautiful and willing heart.
    I’m sorry for being so long winded…you inspired me!
    If only I could write so much on my own blog, lol;)

    • Oh, you made my day, Lauren. I’m so blessed to have you share a bit of your journey with me — Thank you!
      You are so right. it’s the most important day of the year, isn’t it. And I intend to to reflect that as I prepare to celebrate this day of redemption. So blessed to have you along for my journey!
      Giving up podcasts– I can see how that would draw you closer, even when the casts are inspirational. Sleep is, after all, a necessity : )
      Yes, let’s strive to be more dependent on Him!
      May you delight in Him this weekend!

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