Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
I have always preferred Luke’s rendition of this famous teaching of Jesus over Matthew’s and Mark’s versions because of the one little word (in English), “daily.” We have a very bad tendency to think that once we’ve done something it’s done forever, when that is seldom the case. Salvation, once received, is a done deal, but the degree to which we receive the benefits of that salvation depends on faithfulness. “5-point Calvinists” might get up in arms over that statement, but the Bible is remarkably consistent on this point. If it were not true, why would Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and James all urge faithfulness? “Taking up our cross” is not something we can decide to do one day and then a few days later decide it’s too much trouble. As with everything else, this is not something we can do consistently in our own strength; we have to have God’s help, doing it in and through us. However, if the heart commitment is there, God is more faithful that we could ever be, and He will follow through. The devil tries to distract us with everything possible and convince us that such commitment is impractical at best, but as always, he’s a liar. At the same time, this verse is one of the strongest reasons for daily morning devotions. Choosing to spend time with God the first thing every morning is far and away the easiest, and perhaps the best, way to be faithful in taking up our cross to follow Jesus. And make no mistake, He is worth following!
The trip just ended has been strong training in this area. Every day has held new, and in some ways unfamiliar, challenges, and so has required the conscious choice to accept the challenge and follow Jesus. By God’s grace we have made it through, but the relief in coming through the door of our own home to go to bed in our own bed was beyond words. That said, today has its own challenges, some of which I have already run into, and each day to come will be likewise challenging. I am never to run from my cross, whatever form it might take, but rather shoulder it with gratitude and praise that God will always enable me to do whatever He calls me to do.
Father, thank You indeed for Your faithfulness throughout this trip. Thank You for the assurance that You will be faithful each day of the rest of my life, even when I am less than faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13) Help me not forget any of the things You have taught me on this trip, but rather apply each one as You intend, so that I may grow and the Body of Christ be built up, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!