Is there anything that can cause the bearing of a cross to become glorious? To be sure, there are those things that can enable a cross to be endured – patience, pride, and even despair can make make it endurable. However, is there anything that can turn it into something to be boasted about? There is only one thing that can make it so, and that one thing is love.
It has often been said that true love will endure the flame and go through the deep for its object. Yet, here Paul says much more than that. He tells us that love courts both the flame and the water. I believe that he is right. I think that the first stage of all love is a longing for the cross. You see, it is not something foreign to the human heart for Peter to cry out to Jesus, “Command me to come to you on the water!” His heart has been changed by the display of the Lord’s love, and really the Lord of love Himself.
Love – whether it be sacred or secular – first begins with a wish for martyrdom. The earliest image in Love’s heart is not that of some grand and glorious palace, but that of a terrific battle in which it fights for the life and joy of it’s object. It’s first picture is a den of lions, a fiery furnace, or walking on a stormy sea.
Our love for Jesus is the continuation, not the transition, of its beginning. You see, there are not two different kinds of love. True love is like pure water. It is the same in the bubbling brook, the flowing stream and the deepest depths of the ocean.
Have you ever stopped to consider Paul’s love song for Jesus? Have you noticed how much of a similarity it has to all other songs of true love? Listen to it! “I long to glory with You in the Garden. I desire to be near You on Your cross. O, that I could share in Your wilderness, and walk on Your waters. Meet me Lord where I can serve You! Not under the canopy of the night where You are strong and I am weak. Not in some palace where You are rich and I am poor. I long to meet You by the Garden gate where You suffer still, along the Dolorous where You walk still, in the church-yard of Bethany where You weep still, at Jacob’s well where You thirst still, on the streets of Jerusalem where Your heart breaks still. That is where I long to meet You. Meet me, Lord, in the highway and alley-way, in the palace and the shack. Lord, I long to be with You where the sick or sad are. I desire to be near You on the Prodigal’s road, the leper’s house or even alongside those who are fallen. For, my greatest glory will be found at the foot of Your Cross!”