Day 38 of Lent – Days Like This

Refrain for the Morning Lessons – Psalm 7:12
God is a righteous judge; God sits in judgement every day.

A Reading – Luke 9:23
Then speaking to all, he said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross everyday and follow me.”

The Morning Psalm – Psalm 90:10-12
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath? who rightly fears your indignation?
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

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In Jesus’ day, taking up your cross and following him meant that you were ready to be physically crucified with him. Intense. But in my world, that’s probably not going to happen.

As a kid, I remember thinking that renouncing yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus could only look like a missionary who went to darkest Africa where there were loads of poisonous snakes (I am terrified of snakes!), no running water or electricity, and telling people about Jesus while everyone wanted to kill you. While that might still be an example of this passage of scripture, I have since realized that it is not the only way to act out this passage. It is regrettable that it took many years of guilt before I figured out that people around me were doing this all the time. My mom renounced herself and her right to be bitter towards a mother who raised her in harshness and took loving, tender care of my grandmother in her widowed years. My mother-in-law renounced herself and her long-awaited retirement so that she could be present daily for her aging parents, one of whom had Alzheimer’s.

When I look at my own life, I have had to renounce myself and put everyone else (in my family) ahead of myself. I could not simply stop being a mom when I decided to go back to school. I could not simply disregard the needs of my husband and my children when I was working more. And now, I find myself just about to enter the same phase of life that my parents and mother-in-law have come out of: caring for my parents in ways I have not yet experienced. I am not certain what that will look like yet because it has not fully arrived. And part of me is a little fearful. But it is the only right thing to do.

I used to think that you had to go to the jungle or at least some foreign country with a difficult language to follow Jesus. But in my latter years, I have realized that more often than not taking up your cross is doing tedious things that are difficult to sustain, and you do them because God has given you people to care for. I am not saying that you should not seek out other opportunities to follow Jesus or do something that has significance in the world, but the meat of following Jesus in middle age is in setting aside your own agenda for the sake of others with whom your life intersects.

God help us as we figure out just what that means.

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Days Like This - Kim Taylor – performed at WNRN by Over the Rhine

Days like this
You look up at the sky above you
Days like this
You think about the ones that love you

All I wanna do is live my life honestly
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me
Every regret I have I will go set it free
It will be good for me

Days like this
You think about the ones that went before you
Days like this
Have you ever seen the sky it’s such a clear blue

All I wanna do is live my life honestly
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me
Every regret I have I will go set it free
It will be good for me

Days like this
You think about the ones that love you
Days like this
Have you ever seen the sky it’s such a clear blue

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