"This is going to be hard, but you can do it."
My yoga instructor said this directly to me today as he walked by, about to tell us the next move. As I did that next sequence, those words rang in my ears. Not only did I do those moves with that much more confidence, but it also made my heart swell...those words sounded all too familiar. Those are the encouraging words of God answering a prayer. It is what God says to us when we ask Him to work in our lives; it is what God says when He calls His children.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Denying yourself, picking up your cross and following Christ means it's going to be hard. Jesus doesn't say follow me and you will be the most well-liked, popular person with zero problems. Repentance and obedience can be easier said than done, and it sure as anything doesn't mean we won't stumble in our walk after that.
In order to truly repent and allow God to speak into our lives, it requires us to re-frame our lives. Re-prioritize what we used to feel was the ultimate goal or purpose of our days here on earth. Re-look at the world through a lens that doesn't shift with new (human) thoughts, trends or sways. It takes looking through an eternal lens. The world has created idols of everything you can imagine to take the place of God in our lives (Sex, money, drugs, relationships, jobs, I can keep going)...So. Many. Things. We live in a culture that is "live your truth", "do what makes you happy", "if it's not working, you have to do you". We live in a world that is driven by selfishness. Priority one is personal happiness - sometimes at the cost of others and especially at the cost of how it was originally designed.
See when God made man, He declared it was good. All that He made was very good. And that doesn't change. But free will has allowed sin to bring evil, corrupt thoughts and actions into our lives. Following Christ - picking up my cross and knowing my living God - means looking at God's original design as good. Sometimes hard truth comes with that, but ultimately it is good. In shocking news, our thinking is flawed. We strive to do things on our own strength and feel God is wrong, choose to only believe in a God who acts or thinks in a certain way (regardless of what His word has told us), maybe that He is holding happiness or joy from us, or He doesn't have our or others' happiness in mind...another product of our sin. But the truth is, He designed us. He is our architect. He made us to feel true joy. Living by His design is where we can find that joy and truly honor Him, and this brings us into close relationship with Him.
And knowing this, means living this way regardless of what the world says. It won't always be easy to live in a world that bends away from God, but rest assure, Jesus is right along side you saying, "you can do it."