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.”
Written by: Shannon Swenson
I can almost hear the gasps in the crowd when Jesus suggested that His disciples and the other folks in the crowd do something as shameful as to take up their cross. Back in that time, only the worst of the worst had to carry their own cross to their own execution. As with any crowd then and now, there were people who followed Jesus, people that almost followed Jesus, and those who were clearly not following Jesus.
In my own life, there are days that taking up the cross is so much harder than others. Maybe not outwardly, but inwardly. I am one of the people in the crowd who almost follows Jesus. I literally can have a conversation with Him that goes something like, “Really? You want me to do what?” On those days, I am not really a true follower. I am an almost follower.
Almost. As in, “Jesus, today I am going to treat You as if You are my plus one, not my only one.” Almost. As in, choosing to doubt God at words spoken in Jeremiah 29:11. Almost. As in, that might make me a little uncomfortable.
Taking up the cross implies dying to self, setting aside our own selfish desires and plans, and submitting ourselves to His authority as His disciple.
To be His disciples, we don’t have to be perfect or have a perfect track record of days when we are all in for Him. We just have to be committed to learning from the Master and doing what He says to do. Discipleship requires discipline.
If we are all honest, I bet when each of us has an “almost day” it is because we have not chosen to have daily, conscious contact with God in order to know His will for our lives. Hanging out talking to God requires discipline and dedication. When we follow Jesus, we get to find out who we are and who we are not. We get to find out our own unique qualities and gifts, as well as our limitations.
For me, the “almost days” are the days I get to check myself before I wreck myself. They are the days when I throw myself at the foot of His cross to ask for forgiveness and the strength to once again take up my cross and let Him be the Lord in my life. These days remind me I need a Savior and I have one. His name is Jesus. There’s no end to His mercy and grace for people like me who struggle with an “almost day” every now and again.
Thought of the day: What do you need to change to turn your almost days into fully following Jesus days?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for your work on the cross, so that through You I can be reunited with You someday. Thanks that You don’t give up on me when I don’t get it right. I need Your strength. I need Your guidance. Help me to grow in love and discipline. In Jesus’ name, amen.