As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
This passage stirs memories of church camp and Sunday school! We heard stories about missionaries, pastors, songwriters, and other great people of faith who answered God’s call, overcoming many hardships and stumbling blocks on their journey. We heard how people gave up family, friends, and things of importance in order to fulfill their call.
But what if “follow me” means staying right where you are? Let me repeat…what if “follow me” means staying right where you are? Even when we know we are right where God wants us, sometimes we grow restless—we want to keep moving—for a variety of reasons.
● We are frustrated.
● We want a different job.
● We feel like we can’t give anymore of ourselves.
● We don’t “see” progress.
● We want children.
● We want a vacation.
● Sometimes we are just plain tired.
And God says, “stay.”
Denying ourselves means leaving the plans we have for our lives, our wishes, and our hopes at the foot of the cross and choosing the direction God has asked us to go…even if it means staying put. The dreams we have cherished and our hopes for the future become the very stumbling blocks referred to in this passage when our focus shifts from God, the very Creator of those dreams and hopes.
So what do we do when we are struggling with giving God total control of our lives—even when it means staying put? We choose joy. We keep loving. We keep learning. We keep sharing. We look for God in the “little things.” We keep our focus on God. We keep moving forward…right where we are.
Following you is tough, God. Denying ourselves seems even tougher. Thank you for loving us…even when we question you and your plans for us. Forgive us when we are the backseat driver as we tell you where we should go, what stops we need to make, and the speed at which we should travel. Give us peace that we are right where you want us. And Lord, if we have given in to ourselves and have chosen to follow ourselves instead of you, make us uncomfortable so that we will turn from ourselves, take up your cross, and follow you. Amen.
Go with God.