And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24
Have you ever came across some verses in the Bible that you skim over, thinking they don’t apply to you? When I would read the above verses, I always imagined that Jesus was talking about missionaries serving Him, in a land far away, diligently and fervently working for Him in danger of their very lives each day. That is not me, by a long shot!
Last night I was attempting for the first time to make strawberry jam. Fresh produce, homemade goodness for my family, this was surely a labor of love and service for my family. My youngest son was working on a school project while I was preparing the jam. Over and over again, he would ask a question for his project. I could not just walk away from the jam and began to struggle against showing irritation and short answers. He needed help, I was busy and a tug of war began in my heart.
As I read this verse this morning, it hit me that there are numerous opportunities in each day to deny ourselves and take up our cross and lay my life down for others. Interruptions, distractions and plans that go wayward can be viewed as putting the needs of others above ourselves. Anytime we embrace (or gracefully handle without grumbling!) an unexpected event in our daily lives, we can practice denying ourselves. Looking around to the needs of others before considering any inconvenience to ourselves begins the path of choosing God’s way instead of ours. When that tug of war between my wants and another’s needs begins, that is the perfect opportunity to put into practice what Jesus taught.
Of course there are much greater depths where this verse applies and I am mindful of thousands daily who lose their physical lives for Christ’s name. There are so many on the mission fields daily in danger but continue steadfast to share the Word of God. These precious saints need our fervent prayers and support. May their willing surrender and example daily inspire us in our sphere of ministry to be open and obedient each day.