Sunday, November 13, 2011


Maybe the time change last week was a breeze for you--in which case I'd argue you're not a toddler or a getting-old person like myself.  When the world around us changes we give each other a measure of grace, knowing change takes time.  But when it comes to changing ourselves--oy, vey!  Others make excuses for us, "they're just like that," and we make excuses for ourselves, "that's just the way I am."  Jesus said it differently.  He said that as I follow Him, I will leave myself behind, lose my life, only to find it again.

In Mark 8:33-38, Jesus gives timeless insight for change, for the true meaning of life, for how to be transformed. 

Verses 34-35 say, " And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.'"

There is nothing more difficult or impossible than giving up one’s desires, wants, and ways.  I have found it to be a constant, daily struggle, one that grows with time.  When I was younger, I thought it would get easier.  I looked at old people, Godly people, "It must be easier for them than it is for me."  Ha!  It's been many years now and I know it's not true.  Habits make choices easier (good and bad), but making new changes is still as difficult, as impossible, as ever.  It is a fight to give up myself and depend on God and God alone to work the change.

So what will I do with Jesus' words today?  Remind myself not to give up.  Coach myself to keep striving toward Godliness.  Understand that there is no such thing as too much denial if I walk in sensitivity to the Spirit and choose obedience. 

The problem is that too often I push myself, I make denial the center of my choices or cross-bearing my focus.  It is then that I find wallow in failure, pitfalls, my own depravity.  But that is not what Jesus said.  It's not about self-denial, ultimately, it's about following Him.  If I my heart is set on Jesus, if my mind is settled on His love, then as I draw close to Him, as my footsteps match His, self will fall by the wayside (James 4:8). Repentance.  Forgiveness.  Gratitude.  Change.  And in it all, humble dependence. I will wake up to the reality of becoming more like Him and less like myself.  It must be about Jesus.  Not me.  Not obedience.  Not self-flagellation.  Not success.  Not spiritual awakening.  Jesus.  Just Jesus.  Nothing, no one, but Jesus.

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