Have you ever planned to think about something? To set the direction of your thoughts, so whenever they are free and looking for something constructive to do, the direction is already determined? Some topics are too big to be merely Monday’s Meditation. They deserve more time: to marinate, to allow the flavor to saturate every part of the meal.
(Now I’m getting hungry--but isn’t that the point of focused meditation as well?)
There’s no better topic for sustained meditation than the words of Jesus, because his words broke forth from of old and will continue on forever. His words established the earth; his words will create a new heaven and new earth. So this week I’m giving myself to his simple statement, “"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23)
Some meditation starts best with questions. What would it mean to “take up his cross daily?” How is self-denial connected to our ability to lay hold of the cross? Perhaps I can suggest three appetizers for the disciple who would feast on the Lord’s words:
Taking up our cross is an intentional act. The cross doesn’t happen to us. We take it each day by the choices we make. These choices can small and private, they needn’t prove anything to anyone. Jack Hayford, a wonderful pastor and example of a disciple, once said he reads the scripture each morning at his bedside--on his knees. He does so to signal to God and remind himself of his willingness to submit to God’s will.
The Apostle Paul warned us that religious people will consider the cross something shameful and intellectual people will consider it foolish. Am I willing to embrace shameful foolishness in order to follow Jesus?
Taking up our cross contains the promise of resurrection. Which do we want: a life filled with our own efforts, our own strength and our own results, or a life filled with supernatural power? The cross changed everything. It was a death sentence in its day, now it’s the path to life.
The Father is not trying to kill us, but he calls us to come and die. There’s a big difference. Why would he ask this of us?