Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Self-death and self-denial are the necessary attitudes for following Jesus. You cannot do what you want exclusively or attempt to be your own person as a disciple of Jesus. You identify with your Savior first. Jesus calls us to die to our self-driven agenda. We follow Him carrying a cross in order to crucify our own selfish wants, needs, and ideas. Discipleship is costly. Following Jesus is highly satisfying and rewarding, but it is not easy. The best things will cost time, effort, and sacrifice.
The same is true at a much small level for many things in life. This is a mundane comparison, but it provides perspective for me. My favorite recreation hands down has to be high mountain flyfishing. As a resident Kansan, though, I don't get to do it much, and when I do it is a great effort really. But I will sacrifice to do it. I travel to mountains and hike to back country streams or lakes. This costs me time and money. I'm physically challenged when I do so. But the experience is absolutely breathtaking in every sense of the word. It is worth it to me every time.
If we make such sacrifices for earthly experiences, wouldn't it make sense for the best eternal experiences to require sacrifice and commitment from us? How much more rewarding it will be to sacrifice by cross-carrying so that I will always be with Jesus! He's just ahead of us and wants us to follow. But will we pick up the cross, knowing the cost, yet thrilled for the experience to be had?