Everyday Faith

A Daily Kind of Cross

Then He said to then all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

There it is.  The core of our faith and the verse that we hear over and over and over.  That verse we know by heart and kind of tune out when it’s the designated Scripture verse for the day.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ve got that.  I do that.  I know that.  Come on.  Give me something new.”

This was the designated verse for me in my devotional this morning, and I confess: I read it really quickly at first.  I skimmed past it to the other verses, hoping to find something I could use in my day.  “Yeah, okay.  Take up my cross…got it.  What else?”

And then, as He so often does, Jesus called…and took me by the hand…and led me back.  “Look again,” He seemed to say.  “Really look at what it says.”

Then He said to then all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

I read it again.  And again.  And again.  And while the words have not been in front of me in print all morning, they have been on my mind as surely as if they were being spoken aloud to me.

Then He said to then all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Take up your cross.  Take up your cross.  Take up your cross.  Daily, he says, take up your cross.  Deny yourself…pick up your cross…and then come.

Take. Up. Your. Cross.

That is what is asked of me, and somehow I’ve convinced myself (and tried to convince God) that I’m doing a pretty good job of it.  I’ve thought I had that part pretty well mastered, and was ready to move on to other theological concepts.  “I’ve got my cross, Lord,” I thought.  “Where are we going next?”

What I didn’t realize, though, was that I had never picked up the cross.  There was a moment when my spirit looked down and, rather than finding the cross there in my arms and on my back, I found it on the ground at my feet.  In an epic act of laziness and self-absorption, it was as though I simply found my cross on the ground and, rather than picking it up, went and stood by it.  “Here it is, Lord.  I found my cross.  This one’s mine…what?  You didn’t actually expect me to pick it UP, did you?  This big ol’ thing?  It’s heavy!  And kinda dirty and rustic!  I might get a splinter, and anyway…my back’s hurting today.  I’ll leave it here.”

Then He said to then all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Take.  Up.  Your.  Cross.

The words burn on my mind today, and I am convicted and challenged by what it means.

To pick up my cross…to bear the thing that is heaviest and most awkward…the thing that will surely mean death to the very things that define who “Jessica” is.  I’m supposed to pick it up.  I’m supposed to carry it with me into my day and into the world.

What does that mean?

Well, today, it has already meant refusing – utterly refusing – to become angry at my preschool aged daughter’s refusal to see how important a schedule is.  It means admitting that I cannot control everything.  It means admitting that I am not God.

It has meant shedding my expectations of what an acceptable outfit is, and allowing mismatched socks and crazy hair to leave my house, all in the name of encouraging my daughter to become who God has made her to be.  It means accepting who God has created my daughter to be, and not trying to make the world just like I am.

It has meant moving a shopping cart out of the rain back into the store…and getting myself wet in the process.  It means looking out for the interests of others over myself.

It has meant making a phone call that was very hard for me to make.  It means laying down my dignity to care for someone.  It means doing things that are difficult and trusting God to be my strength.

It has meant sacrificing my time to sit and talk with a lonely woman rather than get done what I thought “needed” to be done.  It means laying down my agenda and accepting God’s agenda for my day and my life.

These are small things, yes, but I think life is really made up of a lot of small choices.

Then He said to then all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Today, I’m realizing that if I think I have this point down…that if I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it…then that is probably when I am least obedient to this command.  Today, I think I’m pretty terrible at taking up my cross, and I feel convicted and ashamed of how I so blatantly ignored the commands of Jesus.  Today, I am picking up my cross and dragging it behind me…all the way to the foot of HIS cross…all the way to death…and all the way to real life.

Take.  Up.  Your.  Cross.

What does it mean for you today?

 

Journeying with you (with a cross on my back),

Jessica

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