by J. Grant Swank
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
To know the cross of Christ, one must be stripped of everything else. That means consciously stating to Christ that He can take away everything from us but Himself. Anything less is not the way of the cross.
Practically speaking, that entails willingly surrendering one's clothing, furniture, vehicles, lodgings, holdings, pastimes, leisure pursuits, health, interpersonal relationships, vocation-in short, all of life-to Christ.
It is at this crucial beginning that most believers balk. They want to reason that such relinquishment is foolishness, nonsense, illogical.
Yet it is Christ Himself who tells His own that they must let go of mother, father, brother, sister, houses, and lands in order to follow Him on the way of the cross (Mark 10:21-31, etc.).Therefore, to know the cross of Christ, one must be aware that everything attached to one's life must be placed upon the altar of sacrifice. God, being God, deserves nothing less than all.
That is why "all" occurs repeatedly throughout the Word. We are challenged by our Creator to realize our nothingness in order to come into His everything. To make such a conscious move, we must deliver into Christ's hands our all, keeping back nothing.
This is the start of the cross journey. It is the only way to begin. There can be no shortcut nor circumventing the stipulations as set forth by the Master.
We call Jesus Savior and Redeemer and Friend. But there is no personal reality to any of these titles unless we first submit to Him as Master, Lord. Only then-by delivering everything we are and have into His perfect care-can we know Him as Savior.
And it is only when we release our grip upon everything that we will then know the power of the cross to deliver us from fear, worry, and carnal confusion of our souls.
The Master stands waiting at the door of your heart to prove to you His benevolent Mastership. Give up to Him the properties you hold so dearly. Surrender them one by one. Do not hide one away for safekeeping.
It is then that you will begin to understand what it means to have the life abundant. Only those who have died to their earthly holdings know the glorious truth of resurrection presence. Only then will you experience the power of the cross and the consequent might of the resurrection.
Look for the second and final installment of this devotion next month.