Linnea Good tells Matthew 16:21-28 by heart: Jesus' says he will die at the hands of the religious authorities, and when Peter denies it, he replies 'Get behind me Satan' and 'to be my disciple, you must take up your cross and follow.'
These are strong words to say over and over. The question that has stayed with me personally this week is: What does it really mean to deny myself? To actually take up my own cross and follow Jesus?
In these emergency months, I have been especially marveling at how it is that so much of my day can be about the things I have usually done - with a little bit of time here and there dedicated to trying to help the world repair, to help friends who have had the poor fortune to have health or relationship or identity shatter at the same time as a pandemic has hit, to allow new information to get through my filters when it feels like I can only handle one big deal at a time. I write an email to leaders to tell them that we cannot return to normal as we try to rebuild our shared lives, that the new normal must be very different, rebalanced, with special attention to those who have not had attention. But my own days are not that different.
In this telling, instead of: "...they must DENY themself, take up their CROSS and follow ME...", I chose to say:
"...they must deny themSELF, take up THEIR cross and follow ME"
Our relationship with Christ must be so up close and personal that we hear what our own calling, our own cross, is. Our own participation in what God is already doing. I do believe that Jesus took up the cross because he was unwilling to step away from the truth that God is Sovereign of all. That life matters and that the dimension of the Holy cannot be owned or contained or ruled or bought and sold. That God will raise to life what has been lost.
Perhaps what is our cross emerges with more clarity the more we say: "Yes, Lord Jesus", each day.