Matthew 16:24-25 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it."
One of the great stories that's told in the Seltz-Kilponen household is the story of Grandma Kilponen and Grandma Beth dealing with those northern Michigan winters and all the things that she had to do, just to make sure that the kids made it to school. If you've ever been in northern Michigan during the winter, way up there in Ironwood, Michigan, it can get pretty brutal sometimes. I remember seeing walls of snow when we visited for Christmas holidays. It was beautiful, but it sure made getting around more difficult.
Anyway, the funniest of the stories that were told were the ones where grandma had to test the snow after a big snowfall, to see if there was an "ice crust" on top, one that she could walk on. On school days, if grandma stepped out the door, placed one foot in front of the other, and fell through -- no school that day! If she didn't fall through, then my mom and my aunt and uncle, would follow in her footprints, in her footsteps, to make it safely to the bus stop. Every time I think of my grandmother waist deep or higher in the snow, it makes me smile. She was willing to risk the hassle; she was willing to find the path so that everyone could make it safely to school.
When Jesus talks about taking up our cross, I don't think it's about punishment or living a grin-and-bear-it life. I think it's about following in His footsteps and being willing to test the ice, test the waters, sacrifice for others so that love and life can be received and shared. When Jesus died on the cross, He did more than test whether we could walk our path safely in this life. He did way more than that. He became that path; He became for us "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." In a world today that yearns for a sure path to follow, that needs loving parents who make sacrifices for their children, that desperately needs sacrificial love to overcome hatred and despair. Thank God for grandparents, moms, dads, and friends who are willing to love and sacrifice for others so that they can have what they need. But, even more, thank God for sending us His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord -- One who made a way where there was no way, One who died on the cross and rose again so that we might not only follow Him, but that we also might walk in His footsteps in how we love one another.
Now Grandma Beth couldn't walk on water, but she could walk on ice-crusted snow in His Name for those she loved, doing the sacrificial, cross-carrying things one has to do so that her children and grandchildren knew their Savior Jesus -- who did walk on water, who endured the cross and defeated death itself so that we might have life, love, family, and joy in abundance.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for Your willingness to walk the path we couldn't walk, to endure the gates of hell that we might live, that we might also follow in Your footsteps for life and salvation, that we might also bear any crosses so that others might know Your love, too. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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