If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.”
Your God-Designed Task
The phrase “take up your cross” has not fared well through the generations. Ask for a definition, and you’ll hear answers like “My cross is my mother-in-law, my job, my bad marriage, my cranky boss, or the dull preacher.” The cross, we assume, is any besetting affliction or personal hassle. My thesaurus agrees. It lists the following synonyms for cross: frustration, trying situation, snag, hitch, and drawback. To take up the cross is to put up with a personal challenge. God, we think, passes out crosses the way a warden hands out shovels to the chain gang. No one wants one. Each one gets one. Everybody has a cross to bear, and we might as well get used to it.
But really. Is Jesus reducing the cross to hassles and headaches? Calling us to quit complaining about the fly in the ointment or the pain in the neck? The cross means so much more. It is God’s tool of redemption, instrument of salvation— proof of his love for people. To take up the cross, then, is to take up Christ’s burden for the people of the world. Though our crosses are similar, none are identical. “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke 9:23 CEV). We each have our own cross to carry—our individual callings. . . . It’s a . . . sweet day when you discover your God-designed task. It fits. It matches your passions and enlists your gifts and talents. Want to blow the cloud cover off your gray day? Accept God’s direction.
[EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE]
Lord, you have called us to take up our crosses and follow you. You challenge us to take up your burden for the people of the world. Open our eyes to see the need and open our hearts to accept our God-designed task. May our hands be willing to serve you. May we gladly give our gifts and talents to help the hurting, to feed the hungry, and to share your love with those who are lost. May we willingly forget about ourselves and find our calling in you, amen.
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy.