Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
What does it mean to “take up your cross and follow” Jesus, I asked sitting in a crowded Starbucks one quiet afternoon.
Yes when I talk to Jesus, I talk aloud. I have been in places that I should probably not literally talk to him. I have received strange looks from co-workers, family, people in waiting rooms and restaurants. I just think if I am to have a relationship with Jesus, we need to talk and often.
So I asked, “what are you saying?” Am I to literally get a cross and …. “No” was the answer I received. The human race is in trouble if it was required that I follow Jesus on that aspect of His life.
To take up your cross is to follow God’s will for your life through your relationship with His son Jesus. Don’t take on other things that are not yours. Leave other people’s crosses alone and take up your cross. What is your cross? It is anything the Savior tells you to do in His service for Him. It may be your job, your family, your position in a church family or you may not know what it is yet because He has not told you. He will let you know in His time. For me it is writing.
I know I hear you saying, “But Lori you love writing” OK let’s get one thing straight. Writing is torture. It is like childbirth. Painful and difficult with the hope of a healthy child when it is over. It is suffering an obsession that controls my every waking minute. I have a love hate relationship with words and writing them. I have fought God on this point for YEARS, in fact, all my life. “Me a writer, are you kidding me?” I asked again aloud in a crowded Starbucks full of young hip college kids who already thought I was a crazy woman. Yep, I confirmed that for them. I cannot write. I have to do other things. I cannot live off writing. I did not trust Him to provide for me. You may have the same response when Jesus says to you, “Your cross is…” I went running and screaming in the other direction for years in denial.
God said to me, yes I am hearing voices in my head here, “You will write for me”. I can’t explain how I heard it. It was more like an over whelming thought that echoed in my head and spread over me like a panic. My next question was, “How?” Relief washed over me and I knew that I didn’t have to worry about the how.
When God calls you to a mission, a life for Him, He works out the how. All you have to do is have faith. That’s it. Faith in God and a promise to follow Jesus where He says to go. Let the Big Guy worry about the big stuff. You are to simply follow the instructions. Pick up cross and follow.
I gave up the plans I had made for my education, my life, and future. I gave it all to Him. My advice to you, when Jesus says to you “pick up your cross and follow” Don’t question just follow. Save yourself the embarrassment of looking crazy.
© Lori O’Gara
(One note of concern: If you are not a Christian, your first step is to meet Jesus at the foot of His cross on your knees. You will find Him waiting for you there with open arms. You have to accept Him before you can have a cross of your own.)