Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.”

According to Mark, Jesus spoke these words to the disciples during their walk to Jerusalem. The baptism to which he is referring here is a baptism of suffering and death.

Our women’s Sunday school class took a look at the baptism of suffering and death in our own lives.  We narrowed our discussion to one specific verse:

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24)

What is God calling me to deny?

The season of Lent begins this week for those of us believers who observe a liturgical calendar. During Lent, we talk about denying ourselves chocolate, cigarettes, and diet sodas. The list is endless. Five years ago, when our oldest son was working on the tenth floor at the Medical University, he denied himself the privilege of riding in the hospital elevator.

These are tangible items. But what about denying ourselves those things that are intangible and a bit more personal? Things which may cause a bigger pinch than chocolate or cigarettes or even elevators.

For example, what about denying ourselves the right to have the final word in an argument or denying ourselves the need for an apology before we are willing to forgive? What about denying ourselves the guarantee of success before we step out in faith? What about denying our need for control in the face of fear?

These are questions that I plan to ponder in the coming days of Lent.