I have heard these three steps all my life: “Deny yourself”, “Take up your cross”, and “Follow Me”. But the way Kay Warren unpacks these truths in chapter two shook the foundation beneath my weary feet and shined a vibrant light on the truth of what real “Surrender” looks like.
Denying Self – As much as I desire to deny myself, I realize that much of my life is about (as Kay describes it) – “The Kingdom of Me”. I fight daily to protect my domain and to be right leaving little room for anything else. In her statement “most conflicts are rooted in selfishness”, I am made keenly aware of the selfishness that has entangled my life and snuffed out the Holy Spirit fire in my heart. I am challenged to search my heart and allow the Lord to reveal and uproot this life-killing weed. I am also challenged to stop and ask myself what am I fighting for……..My kingdom or His?
Taking Up My Cross – “But your 'Cross’ is not literal; it is instead an attitude of radical obedience to God in which you willingly accept any consequences for Jesus’ sake” (pg. 46). I love the way she goes on to explain personal crosses, many of which I can identify with. I have overbearing and small crosses everyday that I attempt to move, ignore, or fight. It is not often I think of embracing them. However, I often beg God to remove them. My heart is encouraged, enlightened, and invigorated by Fenelon’s observation on pg. 50.
“God prepares a cross for you that you must embrace without self-preservation. The cross is painful. Accept the cross and you will find peace even in the middle of turmoil. Let me warn you that if you push the cross away, your circumstances will become twice as hard to bear. In the long run, the pain of resisting the cross is harder to live with than the cross itself.”
This is profound and powerful. My crosses are painful. I have spent years attempting to resist, avoid, ignore, and remove each of them. It is time to embrace the very things that I have begged God to remove. Trusting that in my embrace His peace will consume my heart.
Follow Me - This section wrecked me, and I am grateful. I have a new perspective on what “follow me” looks like. Jesus does not want my eyes searching to and fro looking at what He is doing in someone else’s life or not doing in mine. No, He wants my eyes fixed on Him so that every step I take I am following Him. My steps may be encircled by “hurt”, “unfairness”, “sickness”, “stillness”, and even “death”, but as I trust Him He will plant the soles of my feet onto “His Highway of Holiness”. I choose today to walk in faith, obedience, and surrender.
Prayer: Lord, enable me to whole-heartedly deny myself. My instinct and nature is to self-preserve, but I chose today to embrace my crosses. May I keep my eyes fixed on You and follow You daily. I need You Jesus; I surrender all! In Jesus name, Amen