23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23, NIV)
When I was in college, I had one of those conversations with a friend that changed me forever. We picked it up several years later and the mark went even deeper. And it was centered on the verse today: what does it mean to take up my cross, to deny myself, and to follow Jesus.
So many people think the burdens or illnesses they have are their cross to bear. I don’t read it that way. Carrying our cross isn’t about putting up with the difficulties of life. Carrying our cross is following the example of total trust in and surrender to God.
If I’m going to follow Jesus I must do the two things he requires in this verse: take up my cross and do it daily.
Surrender. It’s not a pretty or popular word, but taking up my cross involves surrender, surrendering my self, my wants, my plans for God’s. It means choosing God as my guide and placing His plans and desires for me central to all I think and do.
And I have to do that daily. Not just when I’m feeling like it. Not just when I’m okay with where God is leading. Every day, Daily. When I can’t see where the path leads. When I’m afraid of where the journey may be going. Every day.
Because if I don’t follow I could miss out on God’s best for me. If I don’t follow, and follow closely, I could easily get lost. If I don’t follow I could put myself in danger–outside of God’s care we become particularly vulnerable to the evil in this world seeking to destroy and devour us.
Perhaps if we consider what we would gain instead of what we fear we might lose, we would find the wisdom in surrender and following.
24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:24, NIV)