I do not remember where I got this book, but I got it four years ago. It is called “A Call to Die” by David Nasser. It is a forty day fast to rid your life of selfish habits and focus on God. I began it when I was fifteen in the tenth grade. Of course since I am the disorganized, lazy, mess I am I never finished it. I do not even believe I got half way through.
Today, I re-dedicated myself to it to see where it could take me and what it could teach me! I will also compare my reflections on each day to my fifteen year old self’s answer. Day one is called “Take Up Your Cross” (hence the title of this post). It was a simple, yet powerful lesson on Jesus truly meant when he asked us to take up our cross and follow him [Matthew 16:24] and all I can say is WOW!
Since the sole purpose of the book is to teach people why it is so important for us to give up our selfish desires and serve, it only seemed like the perfect fit to describe how extremely intense Jesus was. David Nasser explains that a cross is not just a necklace or something hanging on your living room wall. The cross was one of the most excruciating, painful punishments, saved for the lowest of lows during this time. So we can only imagine what Christ’s disciples thought when Jesus said to pick up their crosses. They thought he was nuts!! But Jesus knew that whatever God had called him to do had to be done. He had to give up comfort and acceptance. Something we are faced with every day; we choose whether or not we decide to say yes or no to the selfish desire to be comfortable and accepted in our life.
David lets us in a little secret about our walk with God: Our obedience is worth it.
It was very interesting to see how drastically different my reflections were on just day one. My favorite one was the question asking you to describe the benefits of denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Jesus! Let me tell you; fifteen year old me was very wise compared to nineteen year old me.
My answer then: “The number one benefit is eternity with our Savior Christ Jesus! By following him, others will follow you, and by following you they will be led to him!”
My answer now is definitely along the same lines, but not quite as simple I believe. I find that the many benefits of denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Jesus all boils now to one thing everyone is searching for: happiness.
I’ve struggled for so long wondering why I wasn’t good enough, why I didn’t fit in, or why I was always at home crying, depressed, and all alone every night. With God in my life, mind and heart I feel an all consuming joy washed over me. It doesn’t last twenty minutes and fade away like smoking does. It constantly refreshes itself and I am always reminded of the many reasons I have to be blissful and happy. God brings joy to my life like nothing I’ve ever experienced. He reminds me that living a life for him is the only way to live a life for myself!
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24]