Discipleship is a journey. Every day we awake, we are on a continued mission to be a little better than we’ve previously been, to go just a little further than we’d gone the day before. As we journey, we learn a lot of things. We learn that Salvation is far too valuable to play around with. We learn that while we walk in the minority, that doesn’t matter to The Lord. We learn that spiritual growth begins with hearing the voice of the Shepherd and following Him. As we travel, we find that it is difficult at times because of the noise. We hear so many who are talking loud and saying nothing; and, when we listen, it detracts us from our purpose. At some point on this journey, we learn that we have to become so tuned into the mission that all we hear is the Lord.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learn is that the world may not choose us. Even after all we do; even after we go to great lengths to prove our value and worth; even after we tirelessly go above and beyond the call of duty on their behalf; even after we work and show proof and continue to lend support and provide love. They still might decide against us. This isn’t a reason to be dismayed. It’s life. It’s the way of the world. In essence, it’s the nature of the beast. Discipleship is different. Innately, we all desire to be a part of something. The Lord knows this because He made us. In this, he has chosen us. The world may never call our name. It’s ok; The Lord has called us. Along the way, we learn that, because we have been chosen, we need to stand up proudly and be counted. The labor we produce on His behalf will always be appreciated and noted. And, when we are not chosen by them, it isn’t because of us, but rather, they might have a discipleship issue of their own. Bearing this cross teaches us that perception of others won’t necessarily be reality. We learn that, based on our vantage point, people can appear a lot different than they really are. They can seem to have everything and yet, possess nothing; have great knowledge, and yet, lack common sense; seemingly have the world and it’s fullness, but actually be quite empty. We learn that we can be well versed in all the things of this life and yet, never make a genuine connection on any level. There’s our worldview, and then there’s Kingdom Life. The things we consider blessings, those things freely given to us by The Master, require nothing. On the other hand, the ability to discern, the vision we are afforded to see situations for what they really are, as well as the spirit of humility applied to everything we do has a cost. That cost is this discipleship. A true understanding trumps wisdom every single day. It is possible to know everything and without grace and mercy, know nothing at all. As cross bearers, learning this lesson is something that can save us much heartache and help us to align ourselves with those who will bless our lives.
We learn that friends matter. We learn that, in friendship, we’re called to support each other. In this, there is always the possibility that we may suffer a little hurt while they are being healed. Because we’re so close to their situation, we could get cut by one of their broken pieces. It’s ok; but, we must never lose our self while trying to help. We’re to be a friend, not a puppet. We can assist, but, we cannot bend to their will. Our instruction must ultimately come from the Lord. Helping others should never draw us away from our purpose. We learn that, no matter what we do, we cannot save another’s soul; but, we could lose ours. Knowing this helps us to look more closely at the idea of friendship as it relates to discipleship. And, the question becomes, on this journey, what value do we place on friendship?
The extent to which we are able to grow and progress through the various stages of life is largely dependent on our ability to find the right people to journey with. Friends matter. Friendship matters. Friends help us grow; they place situations in proper context; they comfort us in times of trouble and rejoice with us in moments of joy; they rebuke us when necessary. Their strength strengthens us; our strength, them. The Lord, who walked closest with Peter, James and John, teaches us that even the most powerful among us can use the companionship of friends. They aren’t perfect – The Lord knew Peter would deny Him and yet, in his most vulnerable moment, took him to the Garden with him and asked him to watch and pray. We learn along the way that, in friendship we should take nothing for granted. Good friends are hard to find; they’re even harder to replace.
We learn that people are going to talk. But, we cannot allow their talking to make us act out of character. We must always remember that the way we do anything is the way we do everything. Discipleship is about staying holy and being prepared to give an answer. We learn that we can let them talk, as long as we do not let them move us. David writes in Psalms 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
We learn that much of this journey is about waiting. We must be comfortable with waiting. Even as we see people in places we feel we belong; even as we see friend after friend walk the aisle while we’ve yet to meet our good thing; even as we look in the mirror and face the sobering reality that the thing we most desire may never come. We’re working. We’re committed servants. Our faith is based in works. Our prayer life is strong. And yet, here we are, waiting. It’s often tough to wait; but, it’s tougher to regret the things we settle for when we refuse to. Waiting patiently is part of the growth process; it’s a vital part of discipleship. We learn that He blesses us according to what He sees we are prepared to receive. But, while waiting, we must continue working.
We learn that Life is fleeting. In this, we can lose a lot while we wait for the right moment to move. Wasted time is something we will never get back. Satan knows this and His goal is to distract us long enough for the clock to run out on this life. Each day that we are blessed to see, we have an opportunity to be better, to do better, to make good on our promise to the Lord for making us free from the captivity of sin. We often count time as a collective function; that is, days, weeks, and months run together. In this, we often look past some moments, because we can’t see how they fit into the bigger picture. We must consider this; every single moment is a piece of the puzzle we call life. As disciples, we are called to appreciate all the pieces.
We learn that newness is absolute with the Lord. He’s made us New. Not used, or pre-owned, or secondhand, or nearly new. New. Satan understands the significance of newness and looks to deceive and trap us by making us feel unworthy of grace, of the Goodness of The Lord, and of Love – all based on the false belief that we’ve made too many mistakes to ever truly be new. To be certain, none of us is deserving; but, to allow Satan to make us think less of ourselves isn’t good. He wants to diminish our confidence, making it easier to destroy us. We cannot fall for it. The Lord chose each of us, cleaned us of our past and made us new; so, be new; and understand that new rules apply. We cannot mix new ideals with old patterns and deteriorating circumstances and expect grand results. By the time many of us heed the call to discipleship, we’ve traveled that road of desolation for far too long; cross bearing requires we take a new route.
Finally, on this journey, we learn that we’re going to be remembered for the things we do. As we go from day to day, there will be many who talk loud and seek to distract us with endless hyperbole. Their fruits, however, will tell a different story. If we are patient; if we spend the time cultivating our field, and if we focus on the constant improvement of self, we can know that things work out. At harvest time, we’ll see who was really working. We learn to let them talk while we continue working. We learn that all things indeed work together for children of The King.