Okay, don’t really want to be posting as I need to be writing reports, but just wanted to comment on the great sermon this morning, the colossal challenge laid down in Christ’s words in Matthew: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
The disciples would have had one image before their eyes: the humiliating and coruscating sight of weakened, battered men staggering under the splintered beam of a Roman cross, limping slowly and publicly to a drawn-out and exposed end.
I was also drawn to Bunyan, and his amazing testimony of salvation. Been flicking through ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’, and found statements such as:
“Then hath the Temper come upon me also with such discouragements as these: You are very hot for mercy, but I will cool you; this frame shall not last alwayes; many have been as hot as you for a spirt, but I have quench’d their Zeal…then I should be afraid that I should do so too: but, thought I, I am glad this comes into my minde; well, I will watch and take what heed I can: Though you do, said Satan, I shall be too hard for you, I will cool you insensibly, by degrees, by little and little; what care I, saith he, though I be seven years in chilling your heart, if I can do it at last; continual rocking will lull a crying Child asleep: I will ply it close, but I will have my end accomplished: though you be burning hot at present, yet if I can pull you from this fire, I shall have you cold before long.”
The twists and turns of Bunyan’s journey to full assurance makes for heartening reading:
Then, again, I began to compare my sin with the sin of Judas, that, if possible, I might find that mine differed from that which, in truth, is unpardonable. And, oh! thought I, if it should differ from it, though but a breadth of an hair, what a happy condition is my soul in!
And in a sense, we have never reached that ‘full’ assurance, because He always has more to give! When Bunyan is faced with the prospect of jail, or stop preaching about his beloved Lord, he considers this:
But notwithstanding these helps, I found myself a man encompassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as pulling the flesh from the bones, and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I would have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family were like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer to my heart than all besides. Oh, the thoughts of the hardship my poor blind one might undergo would break my heart to pieces. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was as a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet, thought I, I must do it, I must do it.
Unless we will carry the cross and follow our Lord, we are not a worthy disciple of the Master. Make me yours, Daddy. Make me wholly yours.