When I started wearing a cross I expected it to be a heavy burden. I'd heard people talk about "the cross they bear." But it has not burdened me. It's given me new freedom. Last year I attended a Via de Cristo (way of the cross) weekend retreat at the encouragement of my pastor, Bill Bruggeman. We listened to talks by clergy and laity, each of which centered on God's grace, how real it is and how we experience and live it.
I began to know a new joy in my life. No longer was I simply a husband, father, grandfather and a guy who has made a living flying airplanes. I am first of all a child of God, one whom God loves, one whom God is always with.
On the last night of the retreat I promised myself to buy a cross and always wear it around my neck. I prayed I would have the nerve to do it.
The next day, at the closing worship, each of us received a silver cross to wear around our necks. God was saying, "I'll make it easy for you, Tony. Here's a cross. Wear it." And I have ever since, whether I'm wearing a suit or my fishing garb.
I thought people might stare at it and make comments like, "What are you trying to prove?" But only a few have said anything. When they have, I replied in each case, "It reminds me that the Lord is with me."
And it has. Wearing the cross has affected me far beyond what I dreamed. It is a constant reminder that the Lord is with me, and I can do marvelous things. My life is more positive. Normal negative thoughts just don't stay with me anymore.
Years ago I flew jets at nearly twice the speed of sound. I've flown in combat, faced surface-to-air missiles, and I once safely landed a plane with no working engine. But the cross I wear gives me a joy I never knew so clearly before.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers