What Does It Mean To Take Up Our Cross Daily and Follow Him

Look around you in your community, your workplace, maybe even your church and see how many you observe living a sacrificial life. Today, sadly even in the Church, life has become a constant fulfillment of self, to one degree or another. We hear that God wants us happy and that grace often means we can live as we please and God will bless it.

Nowhere have we seen this more evidently played out than in marriage. It would seem obvious to anyone who is listening during a wedding ceremony that marriage has its good times and its challenges. Why else would we vow “for better or for worse”? Some vows even include “in good times and in bad”, yet when those challenging times come, few are ready to face them with the resolution those vows would seem to indicate.

Life’s question is often, sadly even for Christians, “What am I getting out of this?”

Marriage was designed by God to be the strongest, most life-giving relationship on the earth.That strength and life come from the oneness created by two diverse people, differing from each other in almost every way.Only God can create oneness and His plan for marriage is not based on similarity and compatibility, but rather on the dynamic tension created by diversity and complexity.

Before marriage most couples are focused on each other. Dating produces an atmosphere of deferring to one another and blessing each other. After marriage, though, over time the focus often shifts to self. What do I need? What are my goals? What am I getting out of this relationship? Since marriage was never designed to solely bless the individual, the answers to these questions are usually not what we want to hear.

Marriage was designed to bless the oneness of the relationship. It challenges the individual and brings to the surface the dross of our hearts. Marriage is the perfect relationship to help us refine our soulish desires and renew our inner man. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day”  2 Corinthians 4:16.

Because we live in a society that focuses on self-fulfillment, though, it is hard to understand what God is working out in the marital relationship. That is why so many run from the relationship, often looking for someone else because he or she believes that another person will be a better match. The sad thing is, though, the refining that God was accomplishing is cut short and the next relationship will face many of the same challenges.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” Luke 9:23. Marriage can only flourish when the husband and the wife both understand this scripture and obey Jesus’ words. Then marriage becomes what God designed it to be, a life-giving source of the power and love of God flowing through the oneness of their relationship.

Praise God, changes can begin when one of the spouses begins to understand and follow Jesus’ words. You have made that choice. It is not about you getting what you want any more than it was about that on the day you married. It is about the world seeing Jesus and knowing His love and faithfulness for them. It is about you allowing God to continue His refining work in your heart. He will never leave you or forsake you. And He desires only His best for you. That’s His desire and His best, though. Sometimes that’s hard for self to accept. Love, Marilyn

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.

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