“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
These verses have sat on me heavy lately and I’m so thankful I get to share the experience of my weaknesses and the strength in God’s powerful Word. Jesus taught many important truths to the disciples but this is a big one, it’s a foundation truth or a starting point into life with Christ. I’ve heard this verse a ton and every time I’m like, “yep, deny yourself, take up your cross, okay I got it.” I may have heard it and think I got it but the truth is I don’t got it. We can’t truly know what God’s Word means or how powerful it really is until we actually apply it to our lives. It’s extremely hard to admit that we don’t have a clue or that we’re weak, to deny ourselves because our pride usually gets in the way and that truth stinkin hurts. I like to think I know best a lot of the time and my way feels like the way to go but nobody knows what’s right or knows what the best way to go is more than Jesus Christ! Sometimes I’m influenced by others opinions or beliefs on what’s right and wrong about which way leads to the fullness of life but only Christ and Christ alone can tell us and show us God’s truth, only He can lead us into the fullness of life that God has planned for us and wants to give us for eternity. And on top of our pride, we know if we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, that means we put Christ first in our lives, that means we have to follow His example, embrace suffering in this life just like Jesus did on the cross and keep our eyes on the heavenly prize. We may not get everything we want, we may have to go against the devils lies saying, “c’mon, you can do this one little thing, yeah it’s a sin but you know you’ll enjoy it, God has plenty of grace and mercy to forgive you.” By taking up our cross daily, we are to embrace suffering, going against what we want like temporary pleasures and being comfortable in our lives, making excuses and justifying stuff telling ourselves it’s not that bad, trying to save our lives which only leads to losing our lives. Suffering comes in denying ourselves, its hard and it gets even harder when we have to deny our want to fit in with everyone else. This is one of the hardest parts for me. Why should I have to deny myself from all the fun and cool things everybody else is doing? It’s so hard to go against the current when all the fish are swimming easily downstream and you have to swim as hard as you can to swim upstream. I guess the big lesson for me is realizing I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and I’m too weak to swim upstream by myself and from the times I’ve followed Jesus instead of myself and my wants, put following myself and anything, anyone else to the side, through Christ I can deny myself, He gives me the strength to look past my pride, my desires and want to be comfortable and only through Him as the Shepherd and me as a sheep can I live in His gift of freedom and life. I know this isn’t the most popular thing to talk about and prob makes ya a little uncomfortable, I know I feel that way but it’s Gods truth given to us for our salvation and our instruction. Once you realize you’re just a dumb sheep and see Christ, my leader, my Shepherd, as the only way to truly have life, it gets a little easier to deny yourself, to embrace putting your wants of comfortability to the side and get uncomfortable in the suffering by taking up your cross. It gets a little easier to lose your life when we see the importance of the stakes at hand and the love of a Savior for coming down to teach us this truth, for suffering a death that we should’ve died so that we could have salvation and life, the importance of every moment following ourselves, anything, or anyone else instead of putting our self to the side and chasing after Christ as hard as we can with our eyes set on the prize He has for us, those are wasted moments for ourselves but more importantly for everyone around us getting a chance to see an example of Jesus’ truth and light flowing from us into them. Its hard but it’s so daggum awesome at the same time! I’ve continuously struggled to apply this truth to my life and I’m not trying to be hard on myself, that’s real talk cause I know God made me for more than what I’m capable of, God made us all for more because if He’s at the lead, He’s capable of anything!!! Please pray for me that I can embrace this truth and live it out! I’ll be praying for you too!