And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?
My birthday was truly a blessing this year. So many years in August my children are on trips with friends or relatives or camps or anywhere but home. Since I am so connected at the hip and heart to my children, I sometimes get sad when we are away from each other on birthdays since they are such a big deal and such a time of blessing in our home.
This year, however, my cup was filled to the brim with such wonderful well-wishers (thank you very much!) and moments of reflection on my life and just how much the Lord has blessed me in my journey with Him.
Before I went to bed, I opened my little devotional to read one last verse to end my day in worship of Him. I have this commitment to think of my birthday as a marking of what I have lived and what I will commit to live for Him in the next year. My heart was soft and I told Him I wanted to hear His voice, His will, to please Him in every way. Then I read:
"Take up your cross and follow me,"
These words and the following seemed to burn into my heart.
I am somewhat of a Pollyanna at heart and love for everyone to be happy and all people living in harmony with each other. However, God has not allowed that to be my story. I have many conflicts that it seems will never resolve, challenges, issues, stresses that come from being in a fallen world. Most I will never write about or speak of because I so believe in loyalty and discretion when it comes to people in my personal life.
Many of these anguishing difficulties, I have had to bear for years in waiting for God's answer to my prayers.
But this moment , in the darkness of night, with only Him and me talking, I realized that these "crosses to bear" are just what my heavenly Father wants me to take up to bear. My cross of the pain of my heart is just the place that He wants me to trust, to worship, to accept the limitations, as a part of the story of my life that can glorify Him if I am willing to bear it joyfully right where I am.
If I carry these, bear them up, accept them, I will be pleasing in my heart to my only Love--accepting His will for me with grace and resolve to live there. "Not my will, but yours be done." Total submission to what is.
My Christian life cannot be, "I am yours, but I know you will let me whine and complain about this particular issue or person because it is hard for me." Yet, a new realization came across me that evening that these crosses are what He wants me to pick up and carry--they are a part of my purpose in this world--that somehow when I carry them as a gift, as His will, I can better reflect His glory, His supernatural peace, His love and His grace to sustain me.
So, what cross is He asking you to bear by faith, and as a point of worship to Him? Is it a child? A difficult marriage? Irrational or angry or passive family members? An illness? A death? A disappointment? It is only as we pick up our crosses and carry them to the place of dying to ourselves and living for Him, in every circumstance, that we will live in freedom, grace, love and worship.
What cross will you carry, for His glory, today?
I am committing to accept my cross, to take the load with a grateful heart, that He who sees me each day and has goodwill towards me, knows that this cross, my cross is just what I need to suit my soul and heart for His kingdom.