“We did something last night that we haven’t done for quite awhile,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“We went to the Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant for dinner,” Stan replied.
“Oh,” I said. “One of my favorites. How was it?”
“The food was excellent, as always,” he replied. “The staff was friendly with great service, but I was somewhat let down by the fortune cookie.”
“Let down by the fortune cookie? Why, what’d it say?”
Stan reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a little piece of paper. “This is what it says,” he read, ‘When in doubt, be yourself’.”
“When in doubt, be yourself,” I repeated. “That seems kind of innocent. How did it let you down?”
“Seems to me,” he replied, “that it is the exact opposite of what Jesus talked about in being a disciple.”
“Oh,” I said, “you mean like with the first step we are to deny ourselves?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “Seems to me I can’t be myself and deny myself at the same time. It’s one or the other, and I prefer what Jesus said.”
“So,” I said, “rather than being yourself when you have any doubt, you think it’s better to deny yourself, turn to God, and let Him answer you about any doubt you might have. Is that it?”
“Bingo and Amen!” Stan said with a smile. “And,” he added, “this little piece of paper showed me that If I have my eyes open to see, God will show me that He has lessons for discipleship all over the place, even in a fortune cookie!”
“So,” I asked, “what if you had been in charge of writing that fortune for the cookie? What would you have written?”
“Whether or not in doubt over anything, deny self,” Stan said. “And, if there was enough room on the piece of paper, I would have added, ‘then take up what you are to take up and follow Jesus’.”
Bible verses to consider:
If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24.
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. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for showing me that the first step in being a disciple is to deny myself, rather than exert myself as the world encourages. I confess that too often I don’t deny myself, I don’t take up what you have for me to take up, and I don’t follow. Instead, I exert myself, take up what I want to take up apart from you, and I follow whatever I want rather than you. Please forgive the foolishness of that approach in living this life for you and your kingdom. Please help me to follow every step of your lead in being the disciple you intend. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious gift of life with Him eternally so you can be a disciple on this side of eternity? If no, why? What’s in the way? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with being a disciple by denying yourself, taking up what God has for you to take up, and following Him however, wherever, and whenever? If you sense the need for change in your approach to discipleship, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?