“My wife and I had dinner last night at the Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant,” Stan began.
“How was it?” I responded.
“The food was excellent, as always,” Stan replied, “but I’m afraid they may have to change their name.”
“Change their name?” I replied. “Why?”
“The fortune in the cookie was not a good one,” Stan replied.
“Why? What did it say?”
Stan reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a little piece of paper. “What it says,” Stan read, is ‘When in doubt, be yourself’.”
“That seems kind of innocent,” I replied.
“Not so!” Stan exclaimed. “It is the exact opposite of what Jesus said.”
Continuing, Stan said, “Jesus, in defining what it takes to be one of His disciples, said that, in the first instance, I am to deny myself, not be myself.”
“I spent too much of my life being myself with a result that wasn’t particularly good. It is only as I choose to deny myself that I am open to being led, without a doubt, by the Holy Spirit.”
“So,” I asked, “what do you think the fortune should have said to be a good one?”
“I think,” Stan said, “that is should have said, ‘Whether or not in doubt over anything, deny self’.”
Continuing, he said, “The piece of paper isn’t big enough, but if it could also have said, ‘then take up your cross and follow Jesus’.”
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for showing me what it takes to be a disciple. I confess there have been too many times in my life when I have exerted myself in doing what I wanted to do, rather than denying myself and doing what you want. Please forgive me. Please lead me, and help me to follow, in not being me, but in being only yours. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.