In the mid-1800’s, pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail on their way to a home on the west coast. It was a journey that took between four and six months, depending on the weather and the will of the people. It’s estimated that over 400,000 people traveled the trail until the arrival of the railroad hastened its demise.
This was no easy journey. Many of those who set out from the eastern states never arrived in Oregon.
As the trail winded its way into what is now Idaho, many travelers would carve their name into a large rock along the trail. The rock became known as “Register Rock” and it contained the names and dates of those who had it made there safely.
Those who carved their names did so in part to highlight the courage it took to travel the trail. The names also stood as a sign of encouragement for those weary and wondering if they could go any further.
As Christ-followers, our “Register Rock” is not actually a rock. It’s a cross. On the hill of Calvary stands a monument to those who are weary from traveling a trail filled with danger and heartache. For Jesus to sign his name to the cross took courage (remember his prayer, “not my will …”).
It’s also a sign of encouragement. If we can bring ourselves to the point of embracing the cross — to the point of humility and confession and repentance — surely we can find the strength for the remainder of the journey.
So, the next time you ponder the cross, look for your name. Run your hand across the date upon which your name was added there. And take heart! The trail may be long, it may be dangerous — but you’re not traveling alone.