A few days ago I asked God to talk to me – he immediately gave me a picture of someone carrying a cross and the verse “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” Luke 14:27. So I sketched down the picture and left it laying on my desk. A couple of days later, I sat down and finished the sketch and posted it on facebook and asked the question, “What do you think it means to take up or carry your cross? How does that relate to being a disciple? I received some great comments. but as God tends to do with me, He continues our conversation. He took me to the scripture where Jesus is praying in the garden and says. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42. Before Jesus willingly carried His cross and willingly died on the cross, He expressed His humanness. He expressed that suffering was not His will and if it was possible, that God take that from Him but then He said one important word – nevertheless. “Nevertheless not My will, but Your will, be done”. This is what I believe taking up your cross and carrying it means. When you lay your will aside and not just accept God’s will but ask for it!
I truly believe this is written in scripture as an example to us humans. It is not wrong to want something different than God’s will – it is wrong when you don’t accept God’s will. There has been numerous “nevertheless” moments in my life. When I think I know exactly what I want and what is best and have a plan all laid out but then come to the place where I say nevertheless, Lord, not my will but yours. When I get past myself and see that I don’t know what is best nor what God’s purpose is for a season in my life and I lay down my desires and plans and pick up God’s plans and purposes and carry it with me as I follow Him.
There are two important aspects of Luke 14:27. One is to carry your cross, the other is to follow Jesus. Both are required to be His disciple. What is a disciple anyway?
Disciple 1) a follower of the doctrines of a teacher or a school of thought 2) one of the personal followers of Christ. A disciple is a pupil, one who studies the teachings of another. One who follows that teacher and learns by watching his/her actions and thus gains the characteristics of and wisdom of that teacher.
So, if Jesus said that in order to be His disciple, we must carry our cross and follow Him. He is saying lay down your wants and plans and desires and pick up mine. The word says that His way is not our way. His way is perfect. His will is what He has created us for. He knows what we are made of, what gifts and talents are embedded in us, and what our purpose is. His will is so much better than anything we could ever dream, yet we still try to dictate to God, what it is we need to do. Do you remember the story where Jesus calls disciples to follow Him and the first says let me first go and bury my father and the second says, let me first go and tell them goodbye. Isn’t that just like us? We say Yes Lord, I will follow you…but first, let me… And then we come up with excuses and fleshly wants and desires that we have decided is more important than following Him.
Jesus says if you want to be My disciple, Carry your cross and follow Me – no questions, no looking back – all or none! That is the struggle, we, as humans, endure. Fighting against our own fleshly desires and not only accepting but asking for and anxiously anticipating God’s will for our lives. Pick up your cross, carry it and follow Christ.
When you reach your “nevertheless” moment and say not my will but Yours God – is when God can begin to teach you, mature you, and birth within you His plans and His purposes for your life. But it takes an “all or none” attitude! Nevertheless Lord, nevertheless!