I’d love to tell you I have a long and impressive list of things I do every day to feel closer to God. But honestly, I just ask Him to renew me and shape me into the woman I need to be as I get into His Word. And I commit to following hard after Him, no matter what.
This helps me grow ever closer to God—pressing into Him so He makes the deepest impression on me.
In Luke 9:23b, Jesus tells His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” His words seem surprising at first. The disciples had already given up everything to follow Jesus. Or so it seemed …
Family. Friends. Jobs. The comforts of home.
Yet, in our key verse today, we find Jesus telling them the cost is going to be even higher than they had originally anticipated. The disciples aren’t being asked to lay down some things. They are going to need to lay down everything. Their plans. Their agendas. Maybe even their own lives.
And while it may sound like a lot to ask, because of their willingness to continue following hard after Jesus they will get to experience a level of closeness with Him unlike anyone else.
Closeness when they take communion with Him before He is crucified. (Luke 22:12-20)
Closeness when He bends low to wash their feet. (John 13:1-17)
Closeness when He eats with them after His resurrection. (Luke 24:36-43)
Closeness when they are among the first to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)
So not only did they have the promise of eternity with Him in heaven, they also had the privilege of experiencing unparalleled intimacy with Him on earth.
Could they have received any sweeter gift?
This is what my heart hungers for when it comes to the Lord. I want connection. I want communion. I want closeness. Not only in a distant heavenly future but right here. Right now.
That’s why I’m so thankful Jesus’ invitation to the disciples in Luke 9:23 is for us, too. We are also invited close. Which means we are also called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
I realize “taking up our cross” may sound strange or vague at first, but for me it’s meant breaking old habits to create space in my heart for new growth. It’s meant moving beyond a plastic Christian checklist … Go to church. Read the Bible. Don’t cuss. Be nice. Pray. Give to the poor … and letting God mess with any and every area of my life.
It has meant things like offering Him my willingness to step away from TV for a season, fixing my eyes on Him first in the morning, instead of my phone and allowing Him to call me to a new level of discipline in my eating habits. Things I have said “yes” to because I long for an ever-closer walk with Him.
I don’t know exactly what following wholeheartedly after God will look like for you. But I do know that if we want to grow closer to God we’ll have to distance ourselves from whatever is distracting us. We’ll have to lay aside whatever we are prone to delight in more than Him.
Let’s ask God which distraction we need to distance ourselves from in order to grow closer to Him, and then let’s do the hard and holy work of denying ourselves. Because a deeper level of intimacy with Him will always be worth the cost.
Lord, show me what stands in the way of intimacy with You, and give me the strength to lay it down—for a season or maybe even forever. I long to be closer to You. No matter the cost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’m surprised by how far I’ve come.
Two years of healing. Two years of focusing on my own health. Two years of learning how to sit in the quiet with myself and be OK. Two years of believing God for good even when things felt not good at all. Two years of going home to an empty house and counting the...
Thanks Lysa….I’m praying I will be still….hear Him clearly…obey Him quickly, completely.
Yes I agree to be still and to learn to do so in our busy days,
He created us for a purpose ,, and to do his will , and wait for him to show us Then as his disciples Do what he asks of us
I want to grow closer to God in each moment. What a beautiful blessing to know He is waiting with open arms.
We are all waiting to in glorious expectations of knowing he is there with open arms to receive us
Anytime, anywhere, forever and forever
Beautifully put, Lysa; we are all to ready to rejoice in the power of his resurrection, but hang back at the fellowship of his suffering. Fasting and other disciplines are not easy (that’s why they are called DISCIPLINES), but to be close to our King, we are called to join him by making him first. I have learned (and re-learned, and re-learned, etc., etc. ad infinitum) this lesson since surrendering my life (that I’d made a complete hash of) to Messiah and continue to look to him, stretching me toward him. My journey Home is not done yet, but there are times it’s almost like God peels back the curtain and gives me just the briefest of glimpses of what will be…as the hymnist put it, “What a Day That Will Be”). I have a blog (site below) and would welcome your comments when you have the time. Be well; revel in God’s ineffable grace and rejoice that the love of our King is ever present to make our mess a message.
I enjoyed reading it
Keep my eyes on him. I want be closer Lord in every moment ,
You saying Take up Cross is not strange.
Lord guide us. I need prayer not be distracted that I need help with my Learning disability find people who care want help me school to achieve everything get degree Social work so I can take care of help homeless. Tell them how much Lord loves them I also really want be able go Law School help homeless be able have homes volunteer Law Center as Lawyer offer my help homeless show how much I care about them. I promise work really hard need find grants help cost and teachers that help me with all learning tools to achieve this when struggle learning disability write so I can do Lord work. The cross is everything.
Thank you Lisa for sharing with us, your sisters your heart for God. Your,s has been broken & instead of letting it make you angry & bitter you have turned to Him & clung to the giver of the BEST love & you are cherished & loved beyond measure. ❤️ Darla
This is SUCH a powerful message, Lysa! The world today is not accustomed to laying down, giving up, or cutting out much of anything. We are a society of self-indulgence, immediate gratification and commercialism. Your message today is so amazing because it’s SO TRUE!! We DO have to give something to get something (as good old Billy Blanks used to say in those Tae Bo videos!) It’s definitely difficult because it’s so counter-culture, but that’s why I LOVE that God calls us to be a people set apart and defy the current trends. Give, serve and love…that is His call to be a true disciple, right?! And, in those times that we find it too difficult, we can remember that we’re in good company. It was never easy for the disciples to walk with Jesus–how can we expect it to be easy for us?
Thank you for this poignant reminder today!
Your words are so inspiring. Ever since the first time I read your devotional Unglued I have been following your words. I had to the opportunity to hear you speak in Minnesota a few years back, you even signed my devotional. My day was made 😉
Your inspiration has let me to follow my own dreams and publish a 30 day devotional for moms. It is called Mom Moments with God. Like you I have a lot of stories to tell and you made it seem possible and realistic for me to do so. You made me feel like I was strong enough and filled with so much love from God that my words were worth hearing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being real with all of your readers and listeners. Thank you for being you.
Dear Lysater l love all your Devotion I live in Britt Iowa you have been on my heart there was a time in your life Marriage I don’t know what happyed I wish that I could get your books you have beautiful family I pray for you if you can you can email me [email protected] I would love to hear from you I will still be praying for you in His name Vickie Wade
Hi my name is Leonna, I’ve been married to my husband for 2 and a half yeare now, and we desire a child together but my tubes are cut and burned. I am very discouraged about it because its very expensive to do IVF. It’s hard for me to forgive myself. I would like to know if I could get your book to read invited? I hope I’m a winner to receive it. Leonna
I sooo need this right now. I have become a bitter person in parts of my life. I have to find a quiet time during the day to be with the Lord. I’m not at peace with myself. I love your inspiring thoughts.
I spend my quiet moments with God saying the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I imagine images and scenes to go with each verse, then ask for direction and courage.
This will be hard for me to make time. I get up at 7:30 sometimes 8 and its up and adam
and go though the motions of my day. But I will get it done. . God bless you for your
words of wisdom.
I Thank God for you, I been waiting to hear from God in this area of my life. I know he m just spoke to me through you, God bless you in Jesus name.