Deny Yourself and Pick Up Your Cross…Gee, Can I?



Life does present its challenges quite often. One of the most daunting I’ve encountered working with college students has been regarding discovering God’s Will…finding out what to do next. This usually encompasses decisions regarding what major to choose, which person to date/marry, which job to take, etc.

My advice has always been the same:

  1. Weigh all the options
  2. Seek godly counsel, especially parents (regardless of their spiritual status)
  3. Keep living your life. Don’t get paralyzed by fear but do everything you should do.
  4. In the midst of praying about it, don’t seek after God’s Will, seek God! Not after direction but the Director Himself!


That was always the key. Seemed simple enough. Until recently, I had to apply it myself…

I spent weeks declaring what I wanted.
My choices.
What would be best for me at this time.
Justifications for the direction I was taking.
I allowed history and circumstance to give me a free pass…to take up the reins and plot out my path.

And everyone seemed ok with it.
They enabled my self-determining behavior.

Until the morning of decision time. All of the sudden, I found myself once again choosing the least likely, least contextually logical option.  When one of our students asked my why, I found myself once again applying what God has tried to teach me for over a quarter of a century.

“My ministry life [my walk as a Christ follower ultimately] has always been about dying to self. It’s never been about my comfort or preference. It’s never been about what’s easy…or even difficult. It’s been about duty, responsibility, and OBEDIENCE.” [Not that I’ve always done that perfectly, but it’s been the forefront.]

Jesus was very clear of the cost of discipleship:   “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, NASB).

Yes, yes. That’s obvious. Of course we know to do that. Or do we?

If we really want to follow Christ, we…

  • must give up the things we want…to give up our lives to follow Him (NCV)
  • must say no to ourselves (CEV)
  • must let Him lead…we’re not in the driver’s seat…
  • must not run from suffering (Message)
  • must turn from our selfish ways (NLT)

One of my key life verses: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, NIV).


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