Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Discipline and Discipleship

Discipleship is hard.

We know that Jonah struggled with it, since God had to chase him down in a rather dramatic fashion. God called him twice, and the second time he answered. Peter, Andrew, James, and John answered the first call, when Jesus came 'round and beckoned them to follow, but I seriously doubt they found discipleship to be easy.

I suppose that if discipleship were easy, there would be no need for discipline. If I decide to follow Jesus for today only, then why bother with discipline? But if my decision is to follow Him every day, then that requires more effort. I wonder how many times Peter, Andrew, James, and John thought about going back to the security of their nets.

Discipline seems to be one of the keys to discipleship. Daily, I put my face to the ground and I pray for the strength and humility needed to follow Jesus. Daily, I must decide to work on my relationship with God. And as I pray for humility, God answers my prayer and humbles me, usually gently, but never without pain. I often find myself swallowed whole, like Jonah, because of my lack of discipline. And when I am swallowed whole, I discover that my only chance of escape is: discipline.

Paul tells the Corinthians that time is short; he is right, because it will take a long time to learn to live a life of discipline, to gain the courage to be a disciple. Frankly, I need as much time as I can get to learn how to do it.

So I will pray, I will fast, I will give and serve, I will keep silence, and I will learn and grow. I will follow Jesus, going where He leads, no matter what the cost. Otherwise, I may as well return to the nets, or allow myself to be digested, and what kind of life is that?

"The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived." -Thomas Merton, from "Thoughts in Solitude

No comments: