Then He [Jesus] called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8:34–35
That verse used to terrify me. I don’t know about you but I don’t want any part of cross-carrying. I want safe, calm, comfortable, secure . . . peace.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent. For the next six and a half weeks followers of Jesus will fast, pray, and ponder His journey to the cross.
And Jesus called His followers to deny themselves, carry their cross, trust and obey . . . lose their safe and secure for Him.
Have you ever wondered, maybe even worried about cross-carrying?
Worry is Simply Lack of Faith
I knew I was a fear-filled worrier. My doctor has described me as “high strung and anxious.” Seriously, I’ve had times when I turned worry into an art form. But really . . . look around. Have you seen all the truly terrible things that could happen?
Truthfully, I didn’t want to admit that my worry was really lack of faith. I wanted to think I was in control. If I worried or “thought something through” I could control the outcome. I could keep things safe. Peaceful.
But that isn’t the only verse that says life lived as a follower of Jesus may include crosses.
But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:15–16
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:21
If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. Matthew 10:38
But the truth I’ve learned is that if God allows a cross, He gives everything needed to carry it. Everything.
Giving Up Fear for Faith
“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith . . . I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s true. There will be trials and sorrows. Worry doesn’t prevent it. Fear won’t keep it away.
I know. All my worry didn’t prevent hard and messy, but…
It’s a small yet important word, isn’t it?
“You will have trials and sorrows. But take heart, because.”
Take heart [don’t lose your faith], because…
I have overcome the world
I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.
Be sure of this: I am with you always.
Through every hard day Jesus was faithful, and because of His faithfulness my faith grew. Faith slowly became greater than fear.
My faith diminished when I focused on my fears, but grew when I kept my eyes on Jesus.
Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1–2
Faith focused on Jesus has everything it needs for cross-carrying. And in this life cross carrying will happen.
I think that’s what Jesus meant when He asked us to pick up our cross. He was calling us to LIVE. Because life includes hard days and messes. Life includes crosses. And all the worrying in the world won’t change that.
So, pick up your cross. LIVE. And trust God to give you everything you need to carry your cross.