That You would bear my cross

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I never really considered this song as very meaningful – it was nice, but not really significant in the past. But after this experience, the lyrics have become so special and touching to me…

This was a time when I was fed up with myself – now that I was going to church and even studying the Bible, I had expected that I would be completely changed, reaching a new spiritual level where I would be converting people left and right with just one word. But when I looked at myself, I was still so human, still bothered by the opinions of others and by my desires for relationships and success. 

One Saturday after testimony sharing, I was particularly desperate to meet and get to know Jesus, because I could not confidently say I had met him. So after much struggling that day, I came to the dorms with this determination in my heart that somehow, I would come to know him. 

There was no shortage of people going through the halls of New North, which was usual for a Saturday night – these dorms were well known for all the partying that happened there. As I went to the communal guys’ bathroom to prepare for bed, I caught myself looking at my reflection in the mirror and just felt dissatisfied with who I was. At this moment I became so frustrated and thought, “I’m not going to postpone this moment any longer. Something has to happen.” I desperately wanted to meet Jesus and finally change, and I also felt this deep sense of being tired of living before people and worrying about  how others viewed me. I’m not quite sure exactly everything that I was thinking about, but I remember feeling that something was holding me back from reaching Jesus.

So I stood there with my hands on the sink, just staring at myself in the mirror with a feeling of deep despair but also determination. A lot of time passed by, and many people came and went. My face must have worn a very depressing disposition, because one of my freshman friends saw me, walked in, and gave me a hug. It looked like she had been drinking, but there was such a look of compassion on her face that I realized I must really not look so good right now. Some guys also walked in and gave me sympathetic pats on the back. They knew that I was a Christian, and I think they considered me a good guy (but a bit off). I felt somewhat comforted by these gestures, but did not respond outwardly to them because I had locked myself in my own mind, and I could not stop until something happened. 

One hour passed by. Then two, then three…eventually, I put my head on the sink, staring blankly at the ground. I was so tired, wondering what I was doing here, but tried to remember what I was looking for, even drawing a cross out of toothpaste on the ground. People walked around, leaving me alone, and eventually the traffic died down. I could not leave; I was fixated on the idea that I needed to stay here until they basically kicked me out. At one point, I had the thought that Jesus might see me from heaven and reveal himself to me in the psychiatric hospital that they would temporarily take me to; then maybe I would be changed. 

I had gone in there around 10pm, and eventually I noticed that the sun was rising. No change had occurred, and my mind was spinning as I tried to keep focused. I started questioning if this was really the way, and finally, around 7 am, I gave up, went back to my room, and threw my exhausted body on the bed to sleep until 2 pm. My Bible teacher picked me up for worship service but I did not tell her what had happened. When we came to Ebenezer, I went in and just sat there with a dazed look. 

Then the worship songs started to play. One of the songs was “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham. I recognized it somewhat, but I was new to Christian music at the time, so I didn’t really know the lyrics. Then I heard the words, “That you would take my place…That you would bear my cross.” I pictured myself standing before a cross, about to be nailed to it. But then Jesus came, gently pushed me to the side, and let the nails be driven into his hands, instead of my own hands. In that moment, I really understood what it meant, that Jesus took my place on the cross. Inwardly, I could see myself crying out, “No Lord!” but He answered, “It’s ok, it’s ok.” I had never really seen it so much that way. I was so comforted and amazed at Jesus’ love and willingness to bear my cross that I just sat there silently, tears steadily pouring down my face in streams. 

Then suddenly, I felt as if someone placed a hand on my right shoulder, and I heard the words, “I already did it for you.” Then whoever did that was lifted up from me. I was looking upwards at this person, whom I realized was Jesus; he was so high up there in the sky and he was so glorious and awesome that it cannot be explained. At that moment, I was tiny and insignificant, and I could not move or change what this amazing being was doing. I could see that he was really in control of everything. This was very humbling for me. I had thought I was somebody since I had made this great struggle, like I was making a noble effort that no one else was doing. But when I saw how great Jesus was, I realized that for me to even think that was simply foolish. My whole focus had been on myself – literally, I was looking at myself in the mirror – but in that moment, I was finally looking at Jesus, and He was glorious. 

As the song ended, I became aware of my surroundings once again, and the service proceeded. At the time, I was not so confident of what He meant: “I already did it for you.” That was in Spring 2014. Even 5 years later, I have still had some uncertainty about it. But looking back and going over what happened, I realize that I had been struggling so hard to change myself and reach Jesus on my own. As a result, I was suffering so much, even behaving very strangely, like staring at myself in a mirror for 9 hours straight. But when Jesus said that, it was like He was telling me that the work has already been done. If I kept trying to make my own way, it would have failed, no matter how much spiritual effort I made to overcome my sin, and I would have remained tormented forever. But Jesus made the way already, meaning that it’s done. It’s finished. Jesus has done everything already by paying the price for my sins. 

So now I have a different struggle – not looking at myself and trying to overcome my failures on my own, but instead looking at Jesus and actually obeying Him, regardless of my condition. Through this, I am reminded of Jesus’ great grace on the cross for sinners like me. Because of him and his healing, I can have a new, sin-free life together with him, from now on and forever. It is no small thing that he has done for me. It is nothing short of amazing grace. 

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July 4, 2019 6:01 pm

What a great testimony! Especially your determination to meet Jesus by staying in the restroom from 10 pm to 7 am. The struggle paid off when you truly met your Savior the following day! I noticed the struggle against self image was losing its power as you remained in the restroom and people could see that you were down and dejected but you didn’t care.

I want to make the sign of the cross with my toothpaste, but then again I use a baby toothbrush so I can be gentle to my gum….

July 4, 2019 6:31 pm

It’s cool how so many people came and made big friendly gestures to you in the bathroom but nothing happened. But the small gesture from Jesus on your shoulder with a simple sentence was so wonderful humbling and heart moving. The best from humans is limited but just one touch or one word from the King of glory is awesome and amazing. Happy 4th of July! Freedom to live for the King of glory.

Reply to  HIMorales
July 5, 2019 2:05 pm

That is seriously deep :O Good point!

July 4, 2019 8:08 pm

Thank you for your testimony. I am really thankful for God’s work in your life and your ongoing sincere struggle to remain in the straight and narrow road…

I still remember that one time you had maybe your first sheep and you prayed with him in the garage. You came back to Ebenzer and announced that today your sheep had become a Christian and we all clapped in encouragement 😂😂

July 5, 2019 2:28 pm

Yeah! That is so true!! When I focus on myself, I become either self-righteous, or I beat myself down, but when I fix my eyes on Jesus and his amazing grace, I can be filled with joy and thanks!

July 5, 2019 3:15 pm

Wow! What a beautiful and heart-moving testimony. I used to really not like this song. Maybe it was because in my dead “Christian” life, I was not truly free and joyful about Jesus’ grace, but was still stuck in darkness. Now, I can really appreciate this song and even happily sing it in my car with the windows down.

Also, your encounter with Jesus, “I already did it for you” is amazing. It reminds me of John 19:30, where Jesus says, “It is finished.” Through his death, the way for salvation was made! Amen and praise God for your testimony!

July 6, 2019 2:13 am

Thank you for sharing your testimony! I too felt that gentle touch on my shoulder many years ago, before I knew Him. Your testimony reminded me of His beautiful character, that He lowers Himself, even coming to us to comfort us and help us to know Him. Praise God for his grace in your life! You are a source of encouragement!

July 7, 2019 3:00 pm

Wow thanks for your testimony about how Jesus encountered you in your life. I never really imagined it that way like Jesus pushing me aside and taking up my pain for me. That’s a beautiful way to see him bearing my cross. It’s really touching to see him taking up our cross for us and him doing it all so willingly. Praise God for your testimony and I pray you would grow more and more in his image and likeness with every passing day. God bless you!

July 7, 2019 9:06 pm

What a heart moving testimony.!! When you became sincere about meeting Jesus, Jesus was sincere about revealing himself to you. Everyone in the restroom could see your agonize face, but was not able to help you–not even a small pat on the back. Only Jesus’ sincere gesture was enough to set you free from yourself. I am glad that Jesus knows us and knows what gesture or what words to say to save us from our agony. I feel very encouraged to meet Jesus newly because of your sincere testimony. Thank you for sharing your testimony with us.

July 8, 2019 1:14 pm

My Bible teacher picked me up for worship service but I did not tell her what had happened. When we came to Ebenezer, I went in and just sat there with a dazed look.

A while back ago, I was at a complete loss in knowing how to shepherd an ultra ultra mainstream sheep I had been teaching.
I asked your bible teacher how she helped you; however she just implied that it wasn’t anything she did but what God was doing. Back then, I wasn’t so happy with her answer, because I wanted something more practical than that.

But now, this reminds me that Jesus is our good Shepherd. How comforting! I as a human shepherd cannot know what’s going on in my sheep’s head and heart; Because of this, I feel helpless and hopeless at times to lead them. If I were to notice a dazed look on my sheep’s face, maybe I’d quickly try to say some words of comfort; but would that really help them? How would I know about the 9 hour battle that might have taken place before? How do I know how to deal with their deeply rooted sin problems?
But when sheep hear Jesus speak through Bible study, a passage reading, the message, or even through music lyrics, that’s when I know it’s not in my hands. I serve merely as an instrument for the Good Shepherd to find his lost sheep. Woot! Praise God for sovereignty.

July 8, 2019 2:07 pm

🙂 it is a very touching testimony. I am very amazed at God’s work in your life.
This summer I had lost 2 very dedicated students with some very vague excuses :’( . I was struggling to see things in God’s perspective but still sense of defeat still there. But though ur testimony I am very encourage to learn God is active involved in our life and our sheep’s life. outwardly nothing is going on but surely God is working powerfully. I cannot be confident at my power but I can be confident inGod’s power:))))

July 9, 2019 5:14 pm

Your testimony reminds me of that one similar prayer topic in the prayer book that you showed me in the chapel at USC. It really breaks my heart to know that there are students out there who are currently going through what you experienced. But your testimony about God’s amazing grace in your life shows me that there is hope for these people too. You are always cheerful right now that I cannot see any hint of that despair that you had. This encourages me to lay down my life even more to find and to help them. Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony. Praise God for His amazing work in your life.

March 7, 2020 7:57 pm

Epic story is right! Your actions were definitely strange, but as I read your blog post I saw that it was your desperate struggle to reach Jesus and that makes it all worth it. I’m sure Jesus and all the angels enjoyed watching you in the New North bathroom that night.

I’m also thankful for this blog post because it reminded me that Jesus is the object and not me.