My wedding ring means everything to me. It represents the commitment my wife and I have with each other. It represents the union we have that will never be broken. It represents the vows we took and depth to which our love will always endure and never fail. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Yet the truth is that on a daily basis, I don’t think about my wedding ring. It has become so commonplace in my life that it can’t compete with the million other things I have going on in my life or the million other things that I think about on a daily basis.
It’s completely possible that the most important things — those things that we hold to be most dear, those things we hold to be most valuable and those things that remind us of who we are — can become quite ordinary and even forgotten when having to compete with the clutter and interests of lesser things in our lives.
I have had this principle ring true for me over the past 18 months since I stepped down from leadership at my church and began a significant time of rest and flying under the church radar, which I have jokingly referred to as our “40 years of wandering the concrete desert of Columbus.” And little did I know how much I needed the desert to rediscover what is most important to me and what I value the most.
Amid the difficult questions, the seemingly aimless wandering, and the solitude of the desert, God stripped everything. I stood naked and alone with only God surrounding me, reminding me of the one thing that answers all of my questions — the cross
Sometimes we need the desert to find our hearts and souls … and to remember who we are and what our purpose is. And no matter the endless circles and varied pathways we take in this desert life, the point at which they all converge is at the cross. For it is when we come to the cross that we choose to no longer go our own way.
The cross represents a confrontation and revolt against anything that puts us, rather than God, at the center. To pick up our cross and deny ourselves daily is the pathway to holistic and abundant living in perfect union with God.
And why wouldn’t anyone want that?
Can you envision a world where individuals and entire communities are redeemed and look to the interest of everyone else by simply deciding to pick up our cross and deny ourselves daily?
The cross is the power of God to put to death and then bring to life — elements first in Christ and then in us.
To put to death curses and bring to life blessings. To put to death impatience and bring to life patience. To put to death indulgence and bring to life self-control. To put to death hostility and bring to life compassion. To put to death blame and bring to life mercy.
To put to death neglect and bring to life care. To put to death excuses and bring to life honesty. To put to death busyness and bring to life balance. To put to death pride and bring to life selflessness.
To put to death hard-heartedness and bring to life kindness. To put to death negativity and bring to life positivity. To put to death resentment and bring to life forgiveness. To put to death division and bring to life unity.
To put to death labeling and stereotyping and bring to life seeing the beauty in every person. To put to death complaining and bring to life praising. To put to death entitlement and bring to life contentment. To put to death brokenness and bring to life wholeness.
To put to death bitterness and bring to life joy. To put to death war and bring to life peace. To put to death hatred and bring to life love. To put to death defeat and bring to life victory. To put to death my kingdom and bring to life the kingdom of God.
There is so much of me — so much of us — that needs to die. And so much more that God wants to bring to life in each of us.
The cross of Christ is so much more than a nice symbol, a holy representation, an obscure necklace piece, or an optional wall fixture in a church building.
The cross is the very pattern and shape our lives should take demonstrated by Jesus Christ. And that is the pattern and shape for a new and better humanity … the pattern and shape of a new and better world.
Columbus’ Brandon Andress is a writer and former church leader. He can be reached at his website andthentheendwillcome.com or brandonandress.com.