Question: What did Christ mean when he said we must take up our cross and follow him?
Answer: For the seeker of Life, the conversion from our embittered self — with its hardened heart — into a new man or woman requires a conscious compliance; it takes submission of self involving a willingness to endure our present nature as it ceases to be one form, even before it is transformed into another, higher one. Going through this conscious conversion is the “crucifixion,” for the sweetness of God’s own life comes only after the curing of our own. It follows the passing of that life we are in into a Life we cannot know in our present state. Here is the tearing of the fibers of our very self — not a maturing, but a gradual replacement — becoming new in the light of God’s birth in us even as we feel ourselves dying to all that we have ever been or hope to be. Thus knowing that our will cannot be transformed, but only surrendered, does nothing to make the task of going through our conversion less painful, and yet it does make this life of waiting — and ripening on the vine — endurable.