Letting go. It's one of the hardest things to do. There are so many things in my heart, so many people in my life, so many great friendships, so many great things that I just do not want to ever have to let go of.
Yet what if God asked me to let go of it all? What if He asked me to let go of everything? What if God asked me to let go of my life?
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."
God has asked me to deny myself - to let go of myself and know that He is the one in control of me and my life. I must take up my cross and follow Him.
When I read that, I get a picture in my mind of Jesus carrying His heavy, splintered cross on his bruised and bloody back with every last bit of strength that He has. He is carrying it up the hill, knowing full well what lies ahead for Him - even more suffering. And death. His head is down, and He is in excruciating pain. Each step He takes on the hard ground is one more painful throb in His head and one step closer to His death. He finally reaches the top of the hill and the Roman soldiers continue to mock Him. All I hear are the screams and shouts of the people as they deliberately force the huge nails into His hands and feet. He screams in pain. I stand on the sidelines with tears streaming down my face, knowing that His screams are because of me. His pain is a result of all the wrong that I have done. They lift His cross up between two others and His flesh tears as the nails cut through His scarred, bloody, and bruised hands and feet. He has no strength left to even hold His head up. The people continue to scream and shout profanities at Him. He blocks it all out and as He hears the mocking murmers of the people in the background of His mind, He mutters His last breath, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." With Jesus' last breath, I hear Him asking His Father in Heaven to forgive me. There is an earthquake and all is black - and I know that His death was extraordinary. His death gave me life. His resurrection three days later gave me hope.
And now He asks me to take up my cross and follow Him. He asks that I take up my cross - my life, my dreams, my plans, my pleasures. He asks that I let go of all of them just as He let go of His life that day. He asks that I take up and let go of my life. And let us not forget that three days later His Father raised Him from the dead and He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father! His life was not taken from Him. He went through great suffering and pain, but He is now seated beside God in Heaven.
And our lives will not be taken either - they will only be placed into God's loving hands and rearranged and perfected. He knows what is best and He wants what is best for us.
Jesus says that if I want to save my life by living it my own way, I will lose it.
"But whoever loses his life for Me will find it."
If I give up my plans; If I let go of my dreams; If I take up my cross and follow God wherever He leads me - I will find true life.
God is asking each one of us to walk up to His splintered and blood-stained cross and lay down our regrets, our past, our sin, our mistakes, our fears, our dreams, our plans, our friendships, our relationships, our life.
He is asking us to let go of our lives so that we can find true life in Him; so that we can live our lives to the fullest; so that we will lose ourselves and truly find Him.