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Top 10 of 2011: The Cross vs. The Ladder

So here we are, just days away from 2012, and man, what a year 2011 has proven to be. I had a baby, began my hopefully-future speaking career, watched my husband continue to grow his amazing business, and so much more.

One of the best parts of 2011, has been this blog and all of you. I wanted to wrap up the year nicely, and then I saw an idea from Jon Acuff. Well, I stole his idea (he stole it from Tony Morgan, so we’re even Steven).

For the last days of December, I’ll be sharing the Top 10 Modern Reject Posts of 2011. This will perhaps be a chance for you to discover something new, comment on a post the second time around, or even re-read a post with fresh eyes and perspective.

So without further ado, here is #10 on the countdown (This post happens to be my husband’s favorite post of everything I’ve ever written).


The Cross vs. The Ladder.

I can do all things…

I can do all things…

I have whispered these words to myself. I have held them close and allowed them to blanket me. I can do all things. Me. He is somehow not in the equation.

If I just read enough. If I just devote myself enough to His teachings. If I just push through one more time, then…then I can do. I can accomplish. I can succeed.

I look to the cross and see the work He has done, but I am working, too–striving, pushing, pulling. I can look to the cross, except as I squint my eyes under the pressure of succeeding, as I furrow my brow under the weight I have placed on my own back, the cross looks less and less like a cross. It resembles something quite different…

His cross becomes my ladder.

I strain and I push harder to grasp onto each wrung and pull myself upward. I can do all things…

I slip. I fall. I catch myself again and start all over. His words are so gracious and kind and He whispers softly to me…

Nicole, My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Light and easy. Not heavy and difficult. Not painful and purposeless.

I want so badly to stop climbing. I desperately want to just rest at His feet, touch the hem of His garment, allow Him to meet my need, but I can’t. Or I don’t. Or I won’t.

I reason and convince myself that I am still doing His will. I am still performing as I should. I am not sinning. I am striving.

Yet, as my arms grow weary from climbing, as the length of the ladder stretches higher and higher above me, I begin to see the futility in my endeavor.

I see the foolishness in my efforts. I am exhausted. I am wretched. I can climb no longer…and I weep.

I weep over the time lost being in His presence for the substitution of trying to be.

I weep for my sin, not because I was exposed, but because I have once again forgotten my Lord.

And as the tears fall, and my vision is clouded, I look up once again. Through my misty eyes, my ladder no longer resembles a ladder, but begins to take on its original shape…

Christ’s cross.

I focus on the figure. The shape that held Him there. My sin that placed Him there…

…and I repent.

I repent for…

striving versus submitting…

climbing versus clinging to Him…

seeking success versus practicing surrender…

desiring achievement versus acknowledging the One True God.

I climb down from my ladder and look to His cross. I hear those familiar words: “I can do all things…through Him who strengthens me.” Through Him. Him. He alone.

For what do you strive versus submit to Him? Personally, what causes His cross to resemble your ladder? What heavy burden do you carry that you know Jesus wants to take?

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Nicole Cottrell is trained in the fine art of button-pushing. She uses her skills daily on Modern Reject where she writes about the intersection of faith and culture as well as the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. Nicole is a speaker, writer, discipler, and coffee fanatic. She and her husband planted the Foundation, a network of house churches in Arizona. Nicole lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two little munchkins, three of the coolest and funniest people she knows.