“And he said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.'” ~Luke 9:23-27
“Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” ~Psalm 17:13-15
At times it is difficult for me to understand what “denying myself” means while under an illness that vastly diminishes my abilities–or, at least, that seems to myself to vastly diminish my capacities. I’m actually not crazy–I just feel that way at moments. I’m actually not incapacitated–I just have more physical weakness. I’m actually not constantly unable to think–just sometimes–after all, I am writing this……..so……what quite does “denying myself” mean?
Perhaps it doesn’t so much involve doing as it does the way I think about things. Perhaps it means not thinking negatively about everything and learning to be thankful. Perhaps it means learning to function at a lesser capacity with cheerfulness. Perhaps it means trusting my Father to see things through according to his own righteous will. Perhaps it means turning my too future-oriented eyes to the present and living there only. Perhaps taking captive every thought captive to Christ–however dim it be–is then what “denying myself” means at this time….
Of course, it is the duty of every believer to take captive their thoughts to the Word of God, forming his thoughts in submission to the Scripture. In the wearying course of life, there are many times when every day the hours grow long as one diligently pushes on toward the completion of the day’s work. Yet there are also times when a more restful pace of life is called for. And such are not times to inspire guilt. Such are times to even more cast our eyes and fasten our hopes, lives, and thoughts on the only Redeemer among mankind, the Lord Christ Jesus.