Mark 8:34-37 (NLT)
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?
We all have crosses to bear. Some more visible than others. Some are hidden. The visible ones allow our daily struggles to be out in the open where there is acknowledgement, accountability and support. The secret ones can become a lonely self-directed part of our life. Whether our cross is in plain sight or carefully hidden, we have a choice to make daily (hourly, minute by minute) – are we taking up our cross and following Him?
As I contemplated these verses this week, I asked my husband, “What is my cross? You know me better than most people, and if you had to use one word to describe my cross what would it be?”
Maybe we hide the secrets so well, we can’t even see the effects from them anymore. Fear? It’s not that I am afraid in general. I am quite the risk taker. Yet, when anything gets near, around, or about the cross I bear, I become very timid. My heart races and the world pauses and I hear all of the reasons “this is a bad idea!” in my head.
~is it just me?~
Fear holds us back.
Follow me. It sounds simple until you read the part about taking up your cross and turning from your selfish ways. I walk willingly and in the open after my Lord in the easy stuff, but to surrender my cross daily to Him – what does that even look like? I asked Him.
Ask and you will receive.
On Wednesday, I was sitting at my desk and felt the Lord impress something on my heart. It moved me to tears, because I have avoided and willingly deleted every reminder about this future event. I AM afraid. Those words came easy. I am AFRAID. “God, taking that step is big. I am afraid. I don’t want to go. I am scared….. but, I’m willing.” I asked two friends to pray by sending this text:
I’m feeling the Lord impress on my heart to go. Trust me when I tell you I don’t want to go and it is not free by any means. I don’t want to disobey. I want to be obedient, but what if I am wrong? Prayer and wisdom appreciated. It makes my heart pound and my eyes well up to type this. I am so afraid.
At prayer meeting that night, our pastor shared these verses:
2 Timothy 1:6-9 (ESV)
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
I went up to him afterwards and said those three verses you shared tonight helped me tremendously with a prayer request I and others had prayed for me this afternoon. He said the Lord had just laid those verses on his heart at 4:30pm. I sent the text at 3:38pm.
More happened later that night to confirm that I should go. When I finally signed up on Friday, I was still afraid but no longer in charge. I surrendered my fear and pride, and trusted Him by pushing purchase. By trusting and obeying Him, I no longer have to worry about what is ahead. I just need to let him guide each step, and follow.
One step at a time.
I need to take each step knowing He is with me and He understands. My cross connects me to the very heart of Jesus. How can I not share and praise Him for what He has done for me? Yes, my cross caused suffering and there are still lingering lifelong effects, but My Savior is with me and He understands. He endured all Sin and all Shame and felt abandoned and alone as he died on that cross. He did that for me. He did that for you.
We all have a cross, and we have to pick up that cross daily, and put aside our self for His kingdom work. He is going to use it for His glory. We just have to be willing. Listen, trust and obey. Step by baby step, I am experiencing the joy in obedience. I am choosing to follow Him without worrying about future seasons. He’s letting me bloom right where I am, and He’s not finished with me yet.
Let Him use you and your cross for His Glory. Follow Him. Don’t worry about future seasons. Just bloom right where you are today.
~Linking up with Faith Barista and the writing prompt is Your Cross~
That FEAR is a struggle for me as well. Such beautiful encouragement – “My cross connects me to the very heart of Jesus.” “He’s letting me bloom right where I am, and He’s not finished with me yet.” Such hope. Thank you, Michelle. May God give you further courage and blessings at the “future event.”