Take up your cross.
Follow me.” – Jesus
Another translation says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.'” I like that too. Must give up our own way.
So, friend, what does that mean for us?
It means we have to let go.
We have to drop our fishing nets. Exit our tax collector’s post. Leave behind our comfort zones. Abandon everything we once knew and every goal and dream we had prior to knowing the Lord and follow Him. Having faith that having a relationship with Jesus is worth so much more than holding tightly to what we had desired for ourselves. And being wise and not falling into the pressures of the world’s example nor timeline on what our lives should look like.
Yes, I know you had big plans to be known throughout the world for that thing you’re so good at, but God is calling you to a grander role in Him and His Kingdom. With an audience of the most important One – Him. And when you humbly submit, He greatly exalts.
Yes, brother, I know you may have had plans to spend the rest of your life with that lustful woman. But God says that relationship because of her blatant worldliness and lack of respect for Him in all her doings would be to your spiritual demise.
Yes, sister, you may have wanted to marry that good-looking man who seems to treat you well most days, but God said you need a man who will respect you at all times and lead you in Him. Wait longer. Trust Him. The sweet love you desire in a spouse is out there.
Yes, friend, you may have had your life scoped out. How long you’d work, where you’d retire, how many kids you wanted, how your dream house and car would be, and how just happy you’d be when all of this was achieved.
All the while God is saying…
Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Follow Him.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
See, many Christians say they want all the Lord has for them. That they want to have life and life abundantly as the Lord promises to us. Yet, still, do not have trust in the letting go. No faith or very little faith. They desire to cling to their will and try to fit God in there somewhere. I would know. I’ve been guilty of this a time or two. But listen, it never works. We have to be all in. If we truly want to be used by the Lord and see all He has planned for us in this lifetime, sacrifices must be made everyday. A denying of self must be done everyday. How can we take up our crosses, if our hands are still full of yesterday’s junk?
I sometimes think of Lot’s wife as they were all fleeing from the city of Sodom. How she couldn’t help herself but look back at the destruction God was delivering them from – and it cost her her life. She had made that place of darkness home in her heart. Her trust was not in the Lord. She refused to let go.
“For am I know seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I was still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
We cannot influence a world that we allow to still influence us.
I no longer care to look sane to this world.
I no longer care if someone wants to do life with me or not.
I no longer care if my own dreams before Christ crash and burn.
I am here for the Lord and Him alone.
I will sell everything I own if He calls me to.
I will leave my home today with nothing but my child if I have to.
This life is not our own. We were bought with a price, dear friend.
We don’t need to be perfect, God loves when we’re simply willing. Obedient. Faithful. Set apart for sacred use. Consecrated.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I can only imagine what the other disciples were thinking as Peter stepped out the boat in that storm. The Bible doesn’t share it, but many of us who step out in faith know the things people say, even Christians, when we do something that doesn’t make sense to them. “Don’t do it!” “That’s not wise!” “Come back to safety!” But Peter out all of them at that moment had the most faith. He didn’t care what anyone else on that boat thought or what the current circumstances were. He was letting go of it all. He had to get out that boat and get to Jesus. Although he did eventually fall and begin to sink, it was because he took his eyes off of Jesus.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
I personally don’t know what God has in store for my life, but I trust Him even in the uncertainty. Th hills and valleys. What’s meant for me will make it’s way to me and remain. And what’s not will topple like a sand castle. Anything that comes to deceive will be knocked down by God. What the Lord has for you is worth the letting go. He alone all by Himself is worth the letting go of all else.
We have to be about our Father’s business no matter what.
So, deny yourself. Go ahead and be healed. Lay down your past hurts and pains, those words those people said to you, the mistakes you made, the goals you had, the love you gave that was returned half-heartedly, your fears, your insecurities, the life you once knew… all of it. Let it go. A new identity awaits.
Take up your cross. Put on the full armor of God. Get to know the Lord personally and intimately. Study to show yourself approved. Diligently seek Him. Get into His Holy presence and remain in Him as He calls you to. He took up His cross for our sins. We can take up our cross for the furthering of His Kingdom.
Follow Him. Go where He says go, do as He say do. It won’t always be comfortable or easy, but it will always be worth it. He will never leave nor forsake you. You are in the best hands of the one who loves you most.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”