It took me awhile to understand what Jesus was talking about because it took me awhile to understand his kingdom really is upside down from this world. "Really?" I started to think, "You want me to pursue a direction exactly opposite from where they pointed me in school, in work, even in church?" Everything around me said, "Go higher! Get larger! Make a name for yourself." When I was eighteen, I thought my life would be meaningless if I didn't end up famous. But misgiving nagged me; even the messages in church sometimes didn't jive with his words, and I wanted to follow his words. It took me so long to believe Jesus really was leading me down, to diminishing, to even disappearing. His voice, so quiet among the voices screaming, "That's the way to death!", said, "Yes, but the only way to life."
It takes a lot of faith to trust that quiet voice and follow it down to the grave (and I can't without his help): to stand silent before my accusers instead of defending myself; to not fight for my rights, to even lay them down; to do more than my share of the work without bitterness; to do humbling - even degrading - acts of service without recognition or thanks; to receive insults and choose out of love to go back for more. I thought, "Can this really be the way?" But then he helped me try it, and I knew it was, because I felt the hint of a brand new kind of joy; I sensed the sprouting of a living seed I didn't know was in me. I know if he helps me continue, and I know he will, I will see the growth of a glory I could never have imagined.