I never have an answer to the question “What is your 10 year plan.” I do have directions and things I am interested in doing, but a 10 year plan, I don’t have a mapped out plan of “success” as it were. Usually these are plans to survive and thrive financially and secure yourself in order to provide for yourself and your family, if you have one. To a certain extent this is good to do as well. But every time I have tried to make plans for my life, unless they have been done with the plan and vision of God, my plans have ultimately been fruitless. The 10 year plan, our wants, our desires, and even our well-being, must be laid down on the altar before God.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:23-26
The idea of dying to oneself is frankly a scary thought. We all have passions, goals, and desires deeply ingrained in our most private areas of our life. Yet there will come a time when our desires will conflict with the desires that God has laid before us. In that moment, we will have the choice of whether or not to Follow. Our sinful nature and desire can only lead to our personal destruction. Jesus is the only way to eternal life and the ways of the world stand in stark contradiction to the ways of Christ. When we pursue the world, we will lose our life. The desires for the things of this world are a product of our flesh which ultimately must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Our flesh, in its broken and sinful state does not automatically crave the things of God. As Jesus contrasts gaining the world or gaining him, the idea permeates the teaching that these two things are mutually exclusive. One cannot pursue both the world and God and expect to not be utterly torn in two. The world and God desire different things and only one can reign in the hearts of people. As Jesus ushers us into eternity by our identification with Him, our sinful nature cannot follow with us, nor does it want to. A sinful nature cannot continue safely in the presence of God and understands the threat that a Holy and Righteous God carrie s. Our God nature and sinful nature cannot peacefully co-exist. Nor does God want the thing that leads to our destruction to exists. When only God and those who reside in Him can be righteous, God has no intention of allowing the sinful nature to continue the false reign for those who follow Him. This is the crucifixion of the self that must occur for us to Follow Him.
Taking up our cross and dying to ourself becomes an issue of faith. We arrive at the end of ourselves and come alive to the life that Christ has for us. When we are willing to lay down our life, its desires and wants, and take up our cross to follow Christ, only then can we truly live. The issue of faith becomes whether we believe that the life that God has established for us is better than the things we desire. We may not have a full understanding of the fullness of life that Jesus offers, but when we follow Him, we do so in the faith that He is greater than anything the world can offer.
We Follow Christ into the unknown, sacrificing our wants, desires, and passions on the altar. We give up our life and well-being to know the true life that Jesus Christ offers to those who Follow. We all have our own struggles, temptations, and trials that vie for the position of God in our life. Yet only one person is able to sit on the throne of our hearts. Only one is worthy for us to die to in order that we may live; the one who died first for us.
Question for Thought What is the biggest struggle you face in taking up your cross? Feel free to comment your thoughts below or email at firstname.lastname@example.org