The Cross I Take Up and Lay Down

Then Jesus said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” –Luke 9:23

What does it mean to take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Plenty has been written about it, but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: we are summoned to follow Jesus’ example and do what we are called to do to save the world, no matter the cost.

As Jesus’ followers, we participate in this salvific venture in some small way for the greater good of all. It’s wonderful work but, as Jesus makes abundantly clear, it’s hard, painful and involves death. To do what we are called to do, we have to die to what we are not called to do and, perhaps, die to what we thought our life would look like.

What it means theoretically is less important than what it means to each of us personally. It’s worth meditating on.

When you sit in silence with Jesus, what is most important to you? What makes you want to weep thinking about it? What makes your heart sing when you imagine doing what you were created to do?

What challenges, distracts or derails you? What might you be avoiding? Does fear of failure or judgment keep you stuck?

How do you feel knowing that your deepest desire is Jesus’ desire as well, and he is walking beside you carrying this responsibility with you? Even if few people value or understand what you hold dear, Jesus gets it. He sees what you see and feels what you feel. 

The crosses we bear differ greatly, and we often have more than one. Here is what I heard as I sat with Jesus and thought about one of my crosses.

When You called me to follow You
and asked me to pay attention
to how You are loving me
and then write about it,
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Then You challenged me to take up my cross 
and not just to write 
but edit–
take out all the words that don’t belong,
open up to what more comes,
rework and revise
until nothing gets between the reader
and You.

The cross I take up
is not just to pay attention, write and revise
but to publish
and not just publish,
but get out there and market it,
(which is the last thing in the world I want to do)
and not just make my writing available
but make myself available
and vulnerable.

The cross I take up
is not just to write, revise, publish and market
but to keep doing it even when
I encounter those who don’t like my writing,
don’t need it,
and don’t want it.

The cross I take up
is to continue to believe that what I do
is significant, valuable,
and worth my attention.

But not all the time.

The cross I bear
is to have courage and humility:
the courage to keep taking up my cross
and the humility
to keep laying it down.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown in you,
and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell that fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound in you,
and you in me?
John L. Bell, The Summons, vs 1 & 4

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

This song makes me cry every time. I am so grateful that John Bell said yes to Jesus and wrote the songs God gave him–such salvific work in the world.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Jesus carrying the cross by Titian, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Walking” from Pixabay. Public Domain.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2022.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Reflections, Stories, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Cross I Take Up and Lay Down

  1. K Jackson says:

    Esther’s blog provides thoughts/musings/stories that are beautifully and creatively written, and display a true vulnerability that is rarely seen. Her admissions challenge us, but encourage us to be authentic to each other and to God, and breathe hope into a world that really needs it. Thank you Esther.


    • Esther Hizsa says:

      Thanks so much, Karen. Such beautiful and affirming words. I’m glad my writing gives you and others hope and that what I share challenges and encourages people to be authentic and draw close to God’s loving heart.


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