February 21, Sunday
The Word Calls*

Luke 9:23-25 (NRSV)

Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?”

As you read this, I am preparing to leave on the journey of a lifetime. My husband and I are pursuing a 2,200-mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. As we lay out our gear, we carefully contemplate the value of each item in terms of necessity. A 31-ounce down sleeping bag is certainly worth the weight, but what about a 4.5-ounce phone? Or a 4.75-ounce paperback book? Since we will be carrying everything we need, there is no room for any extra gear. Ounces add up to pounds. Clothing, shelter, food, water… everything else is optional and will likely be left behind.  I’ve never considered the weight/value of things so critically until I started packing. If Jesus were leading a hike on the Discipleship Trail, what would he ask you to bring?

From this passage, it is clear that self-sacrifice is a key piece of gear to following Jesus on His trail. In preparation for a backpacking trip, you realize that most of the things you own fall into the “optional” category. Jesus’ only concern is that you take up the cross and follow him. It’s such a simple command but an impossible task.  He asks us to lose our lives for Him! He’s asking for our hearts and souls, each and every one of us.  

Jesus wants our words, actions, time, money, and motivations. The cross is the only thing He asked us to pack. No matter how much it weighs, no matter what other “necessities” we think we may need, it is the cross that will sustain us and give us life on the Discipleship Trail.  

What is Jesus asking you to leave behind to make room for the cross? How are you taking up your cross?  Do you do it daily?

Lord Jesus, help me to deny myself and take up the cross.  Help me to be a disciple that packs only a cross.  Allow me to lose my whole self for your kingdom.  Amen.

By Claudia Carberry
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock

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