Something has been sitting heavy in my mind over the past several days. It’s the idea that if we are serving God within our giftings, it won’t feel like work. It’s the idea of serving in our “sweet spot.” It seems to be a pretty common idea in twenty-first century, western Christianity. It gets me rattled. And quite honestly, angry.
Here is why.
I have to wonder if Paul was in his sweet spot when he was beaten, mobbed, and shipwrecked.
I have to wonder if Stephen was in his sweet spot when he was thrown to the ground and stones were hurled at him.
Was Peter in his sweet spot when he was crucified upside-down?
Our friends, who have fostered over ten children now and continue to serve birth families after reunification happens – were they in their sweet spot when they were investigated for child abuse because of accusations from a child who had never known safety?
What about the moms I know who are regularly spit on, scratched, hit, and raged at by the children they have chosen to love – children who lost everything imaginable before they could even walk?
Hebrews 11 is full of these stories. They knew – this great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us. They knew there was something more ahead. They believed there was something so worthy of attaining that they could throw off everything else. They understood there was wonderful joy waiting, even though trials filled the path to get there.
This place, this time – it is not our sweet spot.
The cross – the one Jesus tells us to pick up – is no sweet spot. It is life and freedom and mercy and grace. But they have been given to us at a heavy, heavy cost.
We are called to join in, to share in Christ’s sufferings and carry our cross. Daily. Every single morning. He says that anyone who wants to follow Him must do this. Picking up our cross and sharing in the sufferings of Jesus will indeed feel like work – it will leave us broken and bone tired. It will reveal our weaknesses in ways that we could never have anticipated. It will draw us into stories that are too painful to imagine, let alone live.
No, the cross is no sweet spot. Our sweet spot lies ahead.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
[Want more inspiration from the book of Hebrews? Read Three Things the Book of Hebrews Teaches Me About Adoption/Foster Care.]