“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
I’ve heard this verse so many times throughout my life, but to be honest with you, I never really understood it. What does it mean to deny yourself and pick up your cross daily?
Taking up your cross simply means embracing God’s calling for your life and begin living out the greater purpose for your very existence. It means putting your own dreams, plans, and desires aside and committing to following God’s plan for you wholeheartedly.
But when you commit daily to anything – your athletic career, education, or relationship with God- there are always things that tend to stand in your way. Things like the past, complacency, and fear. Like a wall, those things can keep you from doing what God has called you to do and picking up your cross.
So how can you break through this wall and follow Jesus’s command to take up our cross?
Today, we are going to look at three different ways to do just that.
I once read a quote that said:
“Every saint has a past, and every sinner can have a future in Jesus."
Your yesterday might not be something you are proud of. You might have done something, said something, or treated someone in some way that you regret. Let me assure you, your past does not disqualify you from living a future in Jesus and taking up your cross.
Let’s just look at the apostle Paul for a second. He persecuted Christians for a living and ended up becoming a new man, a strong follower of Jesus who wrote a majority of the New Testament. Paul wasn’t deserving of a future in Jesus. He didn’t deserve his new identity. He didn’t deserve to live an abundant life and be called by God. Yet, instead of letting his past hold him back from being the person God was calling Him to be, he decided to accept God’s gift of forgiveness, repent, turn from his evil ways, and leave his past all behind.
Paul was able to change and fulfill God’s calling for His life.
And you can too. God still has a purpose and calling for you.
It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past or how many mistakes you have made. Jesus offers you forgiveness.
You are not bound to that person you once were. In Christ, you are a new creation and the old you has passed away. Isaiah 43:18-19 says:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Don’t let your yesterday hold you back from what God is calling you to do today.
Whatever God is calling you to do, how ever he is wanting you to pick up your cross, do it today. Don’t wait for tomorrow to do it because we aren’t promised tomorrow will ever come.
I think so often, it’s easy to wait for the “perfect time” to do whatever it is God has called you to do. I promise you, there will always seem to be a better time. There will always seem to be a reason to put off what God has called you to do because procrastination is the devil’s strongest weapon keeping you from following God’s will for your life.
When it comes to obeying God, I am awful about procrastinating. Especially when He calls me to do something that I don’t want to do or that’s outside of my comfort zone. And when I say I’m really bad about it, I mean it sometimes takes years for me to say yes to God.
Let me give you an example: In my freshman year of high school, in 2019, I really felt like God was wanting me to create and lead a small group Bible study. I loved that idea, but I wanted to wait for the perfect time. I wanted to wait until I had a group of friends to do it with, the perfect amount of knowledge about the Bible, and the perfect amount of free time in my schedule.
Well long story short, no perfect anything ever came. And then this summer, three years later, God just kept nudging me to build this small group. I still didn’t have a clue who I would do it with, there was still so much about the Bible that I didn’t know, and free time, well, that didn’t exist in my schedule. But, I decided that God probably knows what He was talking about, so I trusted Him. I started talking to a couple of friends that God had recently placed in my life and they started talking to some other people, and then, all of a sudden, a small group Bible study was created.
We started meeting about once every two weeks and this group and these people have been a huge blessing in my life and changed who I am so much.
My point in sharing this with you is that God may not be calling you to start a small group Bible study, but He’s calling you to do something.
The right time to do whatever that something is right now. You don’t have to be qualified, it doesn’t have to be a perfect time, and it might not make any sense to you. But if God is calling you to do it, don’t wait, take up your cross and follow Him.
"For God says, 'At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.'
Indeed, the 'right time' is now. Today is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2
I get it, the future is overwhelming. As a senior about to graduate high school, my future is very overwhelming and very unknown. I don’t know where God is calling me to be for the next four years of my life. I don’t know what God’s calling me to do in my future, goodness, I don’t even know what God is calling me to do tomorrow, but I’m learning that if you follow where God leads you one day at a time, you will get to wherever it is He wants you and you will get more out of today. Here’s the thing…
“When you are worried about tomorrow, you fail to live today; You cannot see or appreciate all the blessings and goodness of today because you are already in tomorrow.”
Don’t worry about tomorrow, but simply deal with the steps right in front of you and He will take care of the rest.
Whatever it is God is calling you to do today, do that. If He’s calling you to go sit somewhere else at lunch, then do that. If He’s calling you to go talk to a friend who might need some encouragement, do that. If He’s calling you to share your testimony or share a devotion, do that. If He’s calling you to start a small group Bible Study, do that.
Whatever it is that you feel led to do today, do it. Trust God one day at a time.
Don’t be overwhelmed. As long as your pursuits are the same as God’s pursuits, there’s no reason to be afraid of what tomorrow might bring.
So today, I challenge you to take up your cross and follow Jesus. Stop procrastinating, leave your comfort zone, and follow God wherever He is taking you. Let go of yesterday, take it one day at a time, and rise up and follow God’s calling for your life today.
See ya next time beautiful people,