“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9.23)
Take up my cross, and daily?
Gee whiz, Jesus, don’t you know how hard this is?
Yes, of course, you do!
You who paid life’s ultimate cost;
a righteous innocent
accused and arrested falsely,
on a rough-hewn cross.
Well, then, don’t you know how hard this is for me?
For, you see
(not that I have to tell you,
for I’m guessin’ – nay, I know – you know, for, surely, I do),
I’m not you!
Created by God, yes, I’m a child of God.
That I have no difficulty believing.
But being like you? No.
I’m not a Son of God in the same way are you;
one sent to restore by reconciliation the Creator and creation.
daily and many moments (every moment?) during each day,
I struggle to take up my cross
(which I understand to be anything that gets in my way
of fulfilling the Law
of loving God and loving my neighbor)
and follow you in your way.
And, Jesus, I’d be less than honest
(again, not that I have to tell you,
for I’m guessin’ – nay, I know – you know, for, surely, I do)
if I didn’t confess
that I have manifold crosses,
multiple personal preferences and prejudices
that are at cross-purposes with you.
Jesus, you know how hard this is…
and I know how hard you are,
for you keep calling, indeed, you won’t shut up
(sorry, Jesus, I didn’t mean to be rude, well, maybe I did!):
“Paul, if you want to become my follower, deny yourself
and take up your cross daily and follow me.”
And through it all, Jesus, I now understand the hardest thing about you.
It’s your unconditional, indefatigable love for me.
You call me because you love me
just as I am that I might follow you
to become who
I only can become in you.
OK, Jesus, I’m through!
Fighting you is harder than following you!
So, here I am, here I come!
Illustration: Crucifixion (1880), Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (1844-1916)