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Crosses With Wheels

Recently I turned on the television to keep me company while I worked on a “no-brainer” project at home. Fortunately, I was able to tune in to a local parade in a nearby city, kicking off the Annual Four States Fair and Rodeo. It’s a big event for South Arkansas, one that many people get very excited about.

It is said that “Everybody loves a parade.” I have to confess, I like them more than I often let on. After all, I marched with the school band in a bunch of them when I was in Junior and Senior High School. Watching a parade to me is like linking up with my heritage. Anyway, as I watched along I saw band after band display their ability and play their music. I listened to the announcers as they told us what each entry was about. I saw an occasional float pass by promoting a club or a service as well as State and Local Officials making their presence known. There were beautiful cars with hands waving from inside, and even some convertibles with someone sitting atop the back seat waving frantically into the crowd. What a sight! I love a parade!

Keep in mind, I was seeing all of this from occasional glances, not really gluing my eyes to watch every detail. It was just happening while I was doing something else. All of a sudden, a picture came on the screen that caused me to put my work down for a moment and tune in. There, coming down the center of the street were several men with crosses on their shoulders. In one hand they held some sort of tract, which occasionally they would pass to the crowd in hopes that someone, through their efforts, would come to know Jesus. Now before I say anything else, I want you to know that I admire someone who would do that. I couldn’t tell you anything about their doctrine because I did not hear what they had to say, but I can tell you something about their courage and conviction. It seemed to be obvious that their understanding of faith took them to the streets as they courageously and devotedly shared information to the crowd.

The thing that interested me, however were the wheels on the base of the crosses. As they walked down the street, they carried the crosses with the “Tee” of the cross pointing from the ground to the sky. One side of the “Tee” was draped across their shoulder and their arm wrapped gently around it as they towed it along the parade route. The base of the cross was equipped with a small wheel, about the size of those on a regular size lawnmower, mounted on either side. The crosses were made of western cedar, a relatively light wood, made in a box form from thin planks, making it hollow inside. It couldn’t have weighed very much because of the way it was constructed. Please understand, I’m not trying to be picky, but I’m just trying to make a point. Every effort had been put into the design of those crosses to make them as light and as easy to negotiate as possible. That way, hopefully, those who “bore” the crosses down the parade route would not become exhausted and would be able to finish the parade.

Like I said in the beginning, I admire these folks for making Jesus part of the parade, and I don’t want anyone to think that I am putting them down, but as I watched that demonstration, my mind went back a couple of thousand years to a parade that has been shown in rerun form for twenty centuries. There, through the streets of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ bore His own cross to the place of the skull to be nailed to it and crucified, stripped naked and humiliated before the world. Jesus had been severely beaten and tortured before taking the cross to Calvary. His strength was almost gone, His legs weak and His body failing. There were no wheels. The Romans did not carefully construct the cross in order to keep the weight from being too much to carry. Jesus bore the whole load of the cross, plus the load of the sins of the world that went with it.

As I continued to watch these men roll their crosses down the street, it made me inspect my life and question my faith. “How many times,” I asked myself, “have I tried to put wheels on my crosses to keep from having to really bear a burden?” I didn’t like the answer. I’m afraid it is far too often. Perhaps we try to avoid pain by installing wheels, only to find out later that it was the pain that made us stronger. With the wheels attached, we can pull the cross along with our own strength and power. Without the wheels, we might just have to depend totally on God and move our burdens with His strength and His power. Be careful what you put wheels on!