“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? Mark 8:34-37
Whenever I have read this verse in the past, I had the vision of following Jesus with a huge cross strapped to my back. I took it as taking the burdens that He carried and keeping my focus on those in order to think like Jesus. And, yes, I do pray that God gives me a heart to love those who Jesus loved and to break my heart for what breaks His. But today, God gave me a whole new revelation of carrying my cross.
I have been reading “Dangerous Surrender” by Kay Warren and in this book she writes, “Surrender always leads to peace.” That phrase stuck with me and I started thinking about what surrender means to me. You see, Jesus carried his cross to death. Anyone who carried their cross in those days, was carrying it to their death. And for me to carry a cross tells me that I must carry it to my death. Not my physical death, but death to self.
I am a physical, mental and spiritual being all joined into one body called “Me”. And there are parts of “Me” that always want what is supposedly best for “Me”. Like when Jim and I are riding in the truck and he has the heater on defrost and the hot air is hitting me in the face. Instead of adjusting how I sit so that I am more comfortable I usually say something like, “Do we have to have that heat always turned up full blast?” Or when I am asked to go somewhere on the weekend when I had planned to stay home and _____ (you fill in the blank, write, clean, read). I put on my martyr, self-righteous face and say, “OK, let’s go.” Big sigh.
There’s a lot of “Me” in my life. And I am realizing that because I protect the “Me” so much, I am not allowing God to use me to the fullest. And I want that. I want it with all my being, but I have to die to self first. I will be the first to admit, I don’t know how to do that.
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” I love that old hymn, and I believe it! I know that God has something so much better than this life waiting for me. I have his Son, Jesus Christ in my heart and his Holy Spirit guiding me. Then why do I continue to hold on to “Me”? You’re going to think I have lost my mind, but I am a huge Frank Sinatra fan and while I am writing this, the words to one of his songs comes to my mind.
All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you
Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them
I am singing this as a prayer to God. “Take all of me, Lord; I am no good without You. Take my lips and speak through them, I want to lose the words I want to say and only say the words You give me. Take my arms, Father God, and show me how to hold them out to those that You love. Take me, Lord Jesus, I am nothing without You.”
Today I vow to carry my cross to the death of “Me”.