Wearing Or Bearing A Cross?

This beautiful prayer necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I "pressed on to maturity" in my relationship with God 

This beautiful prayer wheel cross necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I “pressed on to maturity” in my relationship with God and began to bear my cross

For over 30 years I would wear a cross around my neck but I would not ‘bear’ my own cross.

All those years the cross was just a piece of jewelry to me. I had said I believed in Jesus Christ but when my faith was tested through trials, it was evident in my actions I trusted in my own self sufficiency and not in God.

I had a shallow superficial faith because I never read the Bible for myself. Even when I did hear God’s Word from others I used His Word as band-aids to my ailments, an emergency self-help kit I took out whenever I was hurting or needed something.

Then one day I met a woman radiating the love of Jesus Christ and she didn’t even wear a cross around her neck! She bears her cross…For weeks I quietly watched her intently as she would deny herself daily and yet be so full of love, joy and thanksgiving even in the midst of hard trials.

I wanted what she had more than any jewelry could offer. I asked God how I can get my own flame and love Him as she did. He told me, and I have never been the same since–that was the day I breathed my last the day I “committed to the cost of following Jesus“, that was the day I BEGAN to bear my own cross.

The Bible teaches us intentional disciples of Jesus Christ are to bear our own crosses not just wear one:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”(Matthew 16:24)

The word ‘deny’ (aparneomai) means: “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”

The word ‘take up’ in Greek (airō) means: “to take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised up, to BEAR; to BEAR away what has been raised, carry off”

If we wish to come after Jesus Christ we must ‘lose sight’ of ourselves and BEAR our cross and follow Him.

The day I committed to follow Jesus Christ I put myself on His altar and told Him I would go wherever He would send me, do whatever He would ask of me, and talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. I began to let go of everything that is of myself and prayed He would increase and I would decrease.

My adventure of walking closely with Jesus Christ is a novel in itself but let me share the very first radical transformation in my life.

Through His Word, God told me to stay home and raise my children. You would have to know me personally to understand why this was a huge test of faith for me.

*I was raised by a single parent Marine Daddy

*I was paralyzed with fear and insecurities to be a mom since I wasn’t raised by mine

*I saw my children less than 15 hours a week and didn’t know what to do with them on the weekends

*I believed the lies that I made a better mom working outside the home especially since my high paying job would help pay for their future tuition

*I was the mom that dropped her children off first and was the last to pick them up {it hurts to admit this but He wants me to}

*I was the biggest persecutor and made fun of stay-at-home moms {and I said I would NEVER stay home}

*I had finished my Masters degree and was making a six-figure salary and absolutely ENJOYED my job

This was a test of my husband’s faith too. When I told Him about my encounter with God and that I felt God calling me to stay home full time my husband’s response was,

“It will never happen. It is impossible.”

It was impossible for us because we had a half-million dollar home, a Harley Davidson, Mini-Van, Truck and over $100K debt. We were the rich young rulers.

To get over my own insecurities, fears and desires was one thing, having the reality of the golden handcuffs of debt was quite another. I started to sink into an area of doubt and asked God why would He change my heart but not my husbands’? I then stopped asking questions and began to be still and serve God while I waited.

I would not forget the deep conviction God gave me. I knew He had asked me to stay home but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I stood on His Word and chose to trust God.

I look back now and see God was teaching me submissiveness to Him and my husband. I did not nag my husband. I didn’t not bully to get my way {as I used to} but I submitted to God by submitting to my husband.

Instead, I would pray Deuteronmy 6:5 over my husband’s head while he was sleeping. I would pray with my spiritual mentor that my husband would love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. Then it happened!!!!

It just took five months from the time I encountered God for my husband to hear from God too! God told my husband through His Word:

…the righteous will live by faith

Five months from when my husband heard from God we were moved from the VA/DC area to Alabama and I began my full time ministry of motherhood.

I am empowered by God's Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God's glory!

I am empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God’s glory!

I am filled with humility and gratitude when I think of the day I breathed my last breath and was filled with His Spirit. I am humbled when I think about how God was drawing me for so many years even when I had been pushing Him away and denying Him. I smile when I think of my husband’s words when I told him I wanted to leave my job and stay home with the children, “it is impossible”. I smile because I remember what Jesus Christ said of the rich young ruler who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven:

“…with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

By God’s grace my husband and I have gone from rags to riches…from our filthy rags to God’s glorious riches!

By God’s grace I am growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am learning, we bear our crosses when we genuinely say 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.”

And do you know what else I’m learning? We CAN NOT deny ourselves in our strength, we can not believe we have been crucified with Christ in our own strength and we can NOT press on to spiritual maturity unless God permits (Hebrews 6:3), we NEED His help, apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5)! My hope is in Jesus Christ alone, I know I can not hope to change myself or others, He is my all in all!

Yes, for 30 years I just wore a cross.

However, I realize I just ‘wore’ a cross and never bore my cross because the truth is I can’t bear my cross without the grace of God’s Holy Spirit.

It is by God’s Holy Spirit I am equipped to deny myself daily…whether it is leaving a job I enjoy, canceling ‘alone’ time because a friend is in need or pause my writing even at the climax of completion because a child wants a drink of water–His Spirit empowers me to do what He’s asked of me. I have learned the Spirit must come before the fruit.

Let God’s Word examine your hearts, are you bearing the cross or are you just wearing one around your neck? May we press on to maturity!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that HE who began a good work in you will PERFECT it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

I am sharing my ‘Hazardous Faith Story’ as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read other Hazardous stories, click here.

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About altarofheaven

My name is arcelia. I love, worship and revere God. I am enJOYing the peace with God I have through Jesus Christ and I'm learning to listen and respond to His voice through His Word and convictions of the Holy Spirit in this midst of this chaotic and distracting world. I am a broken redeemed healed vessel, joyously drawing water from the Spring of salvation pouring out in God's strength by His Spirit for His glory. "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14 View all posts by altarofheaven

15 responses to “Wearing Or Bearing A Cross?

  • beingtransformedwife

    I have heard your testimony before, but I I love to read it again. It encourages me and reminds me that ALL things are possible with God. Since I didn’t meet you until after God had done such a great work in you, it is weird for me to read how you loved to work in the corporate world and didn’t know what to do with you children when you had them. It is hard to believe that you were ever any different than how I know you now – a selfless, loving, giving, kind, compassionate, gracious wife, mother, friend and servant of Christ. I am so thankful the Lord brought you into my life to walk out this journey with and I am so grateful that you listen and obey what He tells you to say and do. I love you my pink friend who reads red letters. 🙂

    • altarofheaven

      🙂 I’m glad God has blessed our friendship and we get to walk with Him together in this life as we pray for each other…our husbands and children. Thank you for your encouraging words and prayers. I love you my pink friend that loves to read red letters and keep them in your heart. May God continue to captivate us by His Spirit and everything in this temporal world fade.

  • Anna Thornton

    Dearest Arcelia !
    I love that you are His treasured possession in Christ Jesus the old Arcelia is gone and all things have become new.
    New creation , new wife, new mommy, new friend, new daughter and new sister “NEW”
    Oh what a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
    God looks at you and He is pleased with His transformed daughter Arcelia and He is glorified in His precious child 🙂 because you believe His promises and obey Him by FAITH !
    It is so sweet to see His love,grace,mercy and His compassion in your heart and mind and soul !
    I love you and treasure our friendship and fellowship in our Lord and God !
    You are a great witness and God is changing you so sweetly and you are bringing Him pleasure as Benjamin and Annaleigh are loved and nourished in the love of Christ through your utter reliance on the Lord and His Holy Spirit and His word !
    What a blessing to have been allowed to watch God mold you into His vessel of honor and to have seen His glory transform you into the image of Christ !
    I love you ! Your influence in the Lord and His word is priceless !
    Hebrews 12:1-2

    • altarofheaven

      Oh my Anna…there’s not enough space here to say how thankful I am for your love for Jesus Christ and how that has impacted me. Thank you for sowing His Word in the hearts of my children even when I didn’t see the purpose. Thank you for praying for my sweet family and waiting on God’s Holy Spirit to transform us. Thank you for always sharing with me what God teaches you. Thank you for discipling me and being a Titus 2 woman in my life. To God be the glory!! Hebrews 12:1-2 indeed~

  • illumylife by Joy

    Loved reading your testimony. You are an inspiration to others who are seeking to find God. Blessings to you.
    Joy

  • edcyzewski (@edcyzewski)

    What a testimony of living by faith! Thank you for sharing this story. This is what following Jesus is all about.

    • altarofheaven

      Ed, truly THANK YOU for this opportunity to share. This is my ‘first’ writing prompt and I was challenged and learned something new (about myself and my Redeemer). I look forward to reading your book and sharing it with others!

  • mybroom

    Hey Arcelia,
    I’ve been thinking about your post and decided to come back and read it again, thank you so much for sharing your personal info.
    I am also so glad that you are bearing your cross lightly, not as a legal expectation but as a love journey with your dear saviour Jesus.
    cheers Graeme

  • A Stone Of Remembrance Never Collected…Until Now « Altar of Heaven

    […] Don’t just wear the cross around your neck bear your own. […]

  • Zoe Selah

    Thanks so much for your testimony, it means a lot. God bless you. Zoe.

  • justin breslin

    Tia. I really loved this post i looked for it because i’m the one who took the picture and i was reading some of your other post they are really good the newest one almost made me cry. I liked this onr about how people wear a cross. But only some bear the cross. That is very true im going to try to be the people who bear thr cross not wear it thank you tia love you

    • altarofheaven

      Thank you Justin!! To receive a compliment from my sweet nephew means more than I can share here, for you know my yuck and how difficult it is for me to ‘bear my own cross’–that is to die to my selfish desires. You know I am not perfect and that makes me happy because the good that you do see in me you KNOW is Christ. Seeing your comment here with the desire to ‘bear your own cross’ shows me prayers are being answered. May you GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as you follow Him. Oh how I love Jesus and how I LOVE YOU!! {p.s. Uncle Billy says Hi and he loves you!}

      “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.” Luke 9:23

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