If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. – Luke 9:23-24
This law of the dying of self, and the magnifying of Christ is the secret of Christian peace. When Christ is small, and self is large, life cannot be deeply restful. Everything annoys us. We grow impatient of whatever breaks our comfort. We grieve over little trials. We find causes for discontent in merest trifles. We resent whatever would hinder or oppose us. There is no blue sky in the ‘picture’ of which self is the center!
But when self decreases and Christ increases, then the life of friction and worry is changed into quietness and peace. When the glory of Christ streams over this little, cramped, fretted, broken life of ours, peace comes, and the love of Christ brightens every spot and sweetens all bitterness. Trials are easy to bear when self is small, and Christ is large.
This lesson has its very practical bearing on all our common, every-day life. Naturally, we want to have our own way. We like to carry out our own plans and ambitions. We are apt to feel, too, that we have failed in life, when we cannot realize these hopes. But this is the world’s standard! The successful worldling is the one who is able to master all life’s circumstances, and make them serve him.
But the greatest thing possible in any life is to have the divine plan for it fulfilled, even though it thwarts every human hope and dashes away every earthly dream. It is not easy for us to learn this lesson, that God’s ways are always better for us than our own!
We make our little plans and begin to carry them out. We think we have all things arranged for our greatest happiness and our best good. Then God’s plan breaks in upon ours, and we look down through our tears upon the shattered fragments of our fine plans! All seems wreck, loss, and disaster! But no, it is only God’s larger, wiser, better plan, displacing our little, imperfect, short-sighted one!
It is true, that God really thinks about our lives and has a purpose of His own for them, a place He would have us fill, a work He would have us do. It seems when we think of it, that this is scarcely possible, that each one of the lives of His countless children should be personally and individually thought about by the Father. Yet we know that this is true of the least and lowliest of believers. Surely if God cares enough for us to make a plan for our life, a heavenly plan; it must be better than any plan of ours could be! It is a high honor, therefore, for His plan to take the place of ours, whatever the cost and the pain may be to us!