The Daily Cross

It was early morning, the air still, the temperature crisp, the fog not yet lifted, as I strolled along the winding path among the giant Sequoia at Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, California, USA, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. A surreal time of peace, quiet, and serenity.

It’s easy to always look up, awesome struck with the immense height of the giant redwood trees creating a magnificent cathedral canopy. But I’m a contrarian when it comes to photography, so I was looking for the unique shot, something out of the ordinary, something that catches my eye, something inspiring from God.

And there it was. The uprooted, weathered trunk of a fallen giant redwood tree. So I immediately set up my Nikon D810 camera on my tripod and began capturing image after image, becoming a part of the history of this tree that might have been stretching its limbs to the heavens for hundreds of years.

As I looked at this fallen tree, I couldn’t help think about the cross of Christ and its meaning in our lives.

Christ’s death on the cross means forgiveness of sins and eternal life for you and me. The fruit that continues to pour forth from His sacrifice for me is incomprehensible and indescribable.

But there is more that the cross means for us.

There is the daily cross in our lives.

Jesus spoke about this daily cross in Luke 9:23-24 —

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24

Paul put this daily cross in practical terms when he said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). And then he said those powerful words of commitment in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I have been thinking about this daily cross. Elisabeth Elliot wrote a powerful book on the life and legacy of Amy Carmichael entitled, A Chance To Die. I have a signed copy of it and decided to pull it out and begin reading it. I leafed through all the pages, looking at the pictures, and reading selected quotes. Then I closed the book and just looked at the cover with Amy Carmichael’s picture and that title, A Chance To Die.

I am struck with the fact that every day, for me, is a chance to die for Christ — it may mean losing worldly life or no longer living for self. We die to self and its desires and live to Christ and His way and His desires.

We may think that’s a negative thing. But it’s not. Not even close. It’s the best and only way for us to live — daily, moment by moment surrender to Christ.

Amy Carmichael said, “to will what God wills brings peace.” Another way to say it is that “in acceptance lies peace.” Receiving what God places in my hand and running with it means death to self, death to my way — it is a chance to die — a chance to lose my life for His sake and then to see the fruit that comes from it.

For Jesus it meant the cross and that cross is one we take up daily — as Paul said, “I die daily”. The most difficult times are when we have what we don’t want or want what we don’t have. But we must always remember that God’s plans and ways are the best.

I remember years ago holding out a wonderful treat to my niece when she was very young. Her hands were filled with something else — she had to let those things fall to the ground in order to take hold of the much better thing I was offering her. I could see the moment of decision and all the thoughts that went with it in her eyes. Finally, with a strong resolve she opened her hands, let those things go, and reached up to me with all I wanted to give her. That is the way it must be with us.

Surrender all to the Lord, die daily to self, then reach up to Him for all that He will pour into our lives.

Paul spoke of our surrender and result of the good, acceptable and perfect will of God in Romans 12:1-2 —

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

Jesus pointed out in John 12:24 that there is an unexpected result: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

I finished my photography and I looked again at this fallen redwood tree. It has been said that fallen redwood trees can still grow for some extended time and seed rows of new redwood trees. We need to remember that dying to self means the life of Christ is at work in and through us to touch a lost and hurting world. I would much rather have Him working out His purposes with His power in and through me than my own ideas and plans.

I think about Elisabeth Elliot, a favorite author of mine, known for her memoirs of her husband, Jim Elliot, martyred for his faith by the Auca Indians in Ecuador. What an amazing woman of God she was. I had the privilege to meet her a number of times early on in my relationship with the Lord. She is a hero of the faith to me. I am thankful for her example of one who loved God and His Word and exhibited a life of absolute surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so, I sit with her book, A Chance To Die, excited to dig in to the life and legacy of another hero of the faith, Amy Carmichael. Amy Carmichael, a missionary, spent the last twenty years of her life bedridden after a devastating injury in India. But it was during that time she wrote most of her books that now impact thousands of lives. Elisabeth Elliot lost her husband, Jim Elliot, when he was killed by Auca Indians in Ecuador. As a result, Elisabeth Elliot wrote The Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates Of Splendor, two books that impacted hundreds of thousands of men and women. I was one of those who read those books and decided to answer the call of the Lord and say “Yes Lord, I will go wherever You lead and follow You wherever you take me.”

I found a video online of Valerie Elliot Shepard’s message at the memorial for her mother, Elisabeth Elliot, who went home to be with the Lord in 2015. I was profoundly impacted by the beauty of Valerie, her commitment to the Lord, and the profound impact her mother had on her life. I witnessed the fruit of Elisabeth Elliot’s commitment in her daughter, Valerie.

I love these words by Amy Carmichael in her book, Toward Jerusalem

Long is the way, and very steep the slope,
Strengthen me once again, O God of Hope.
Far, very far, the summit doth appear;
But Thou art near my God, but Thou art near.
And Thou wilt give me with my daily food,
Powers of endurance, courage, fortitude.
Thy way is perfect; only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.
Thou art my Portion, saith my soul to Thee,
O what a Portion is my God to me.
Amy Carmichael in Toward Jerusalem

I trust that as we die daily, surrender to the Lord moment by moment, we will see fruit from our surrendered lives. That’s the power and truth of the daily cross.

So today, dear friend, I encourage you to surrender to the Lord and lean in to His embrace as He leads you through life until all of us meet Him face to face in glory.

♥ Blessings and Grace to You!

Catherine

myPhotoWalk Devotional

I die daily.
1 Corinthians 15:31

myPhotoWalk Technical

  • Title: Falling To The Ground
  •   Request This Image > SmugMug Image Request
  • Description: A fallen redwood tree at Muir Woods in Mill Valley, California, USA.
  • Creator: Catherine Martin
  • Date Created: 08/09/15
  • Camera: Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-120mm, FL 40mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, AEB.
  • Photoshoot: myPhotoWalk Photo Shoot in Muir Woods in Mill Valley, California, USA.
  • Post-Processing: Photomatix Pro, Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Photoshop, Nik Software, OnOne Software.
  • Copyright ©2017 Catherine Martin — myPhotoWalk™ — Quiet Time Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
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