[Jesus] said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? – (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)
Struggling to swallow this teaching. I have been denied so many of the desires of my heart; to live near my boyfriend, to be married, this summer, to serve in ministry alongside him.
I involuntarily get nervous whenever the phone rings now, filled with the dread that bad news is again on the other end.
Now, that which I do have (which, I freely admit, is a lot) I fear will be taken from me also.
That’s where this passage hits me. Straight in the gut, filled with a little bit of grief and a whole lot of self pity.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Oh Lord, have I not done this? Have I not eventually bowed my head in submission at every new turn, and picked up the cross? It is so heavy, so hard.
But it is true. “To whom shall [I] go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
I cannot stop now. I cannot start to follow you, and not realize the implications from what comes next in this passage. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
I am loosing it. In so many ways, I have lost it. None of my plans have come to be realized the way I wanted them. I have lost my life, at least the version of it that I had dreamed of. As I cry over this, you tell me, “‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?’ What does it profit you to gain the things that you want, and lose the sanctified, holy, healed soul that I have planned for you?”
Oh, Father, this is a hard teaching. How do I bear it? How do I live life with this new future? How do I continue to submit, on days when it feels like you hate me more than you love me?
“For what can a man give in return for his soul?”
Nothing. Of course, nothing. Thus, if I want to save my soul, I must lose my life.
May my self pity die, and my joyful submission grow in it’s place. “Give me peace and rest.”