Monday, May 17, 2010
Discipleship at Turtle Pace
As the pastor of discipleship at Hayward Wesleyan, I am mindful at how painfully slow people's pilgrimages to the cross are! It seems that we are a people who are perpetually in a hurry. Yet the one destination that cannot be rushed, manipulated or short-cutted is the cross. People must take up their own cross in their own time. There are no programs, curriculum, sermon series, or other well-intended ideas that can do it for people. Perhaps the fact that there are no quick-fixes to become like Christ is what makes the journey so undesirable to so many. Whatever the case, I know one thing. . . what we have been given from God, we MUST offer to others! As disciplers we cannot force anyone to become like Jesus. But, you can take up your own cross and encourage those in your sphere of influence to take up theirs too. You can call people to the journey, and offer them pathways towards transformation. You can let your light shine, and invite others to let their lights shine too. Yes, discipleship is a painfully slow process, and often pretty messy too. It was no different for Jesus as he invested in the twelve. Yet, it's out of this slow, messy process that sons and daughter of God are born and real transformation in Christlikeness becomes possible. So, I invite you to reevaluate the progression of discipleship in terms of decades instead of days. Decades? Yes, decades. Think about a person whom you have invested in, prayed for and wished God's best for. Where are they today compared to ten years ago? Sometimes looking at a soul's long haul provides proof that transformation IS indeed happening. But, it is a process...and we are impatient people. The simple reality is that discipleship is a painfully slow process. Eugene Peterson dubbs discipleship "a long obedience in the same direction". It's all about putting one step in front of another one mundane and ordinary day at a time.
Often transformation is subtle and seemingly invisible. It's like a turtle's pace. Is that discouraging? For me it often is. But, I'm reminded that there is no other way to do it than Jesus way. Believe me, I've tried short-cuts. They don't work. We'll have to trust that the path He laid out, albiet slow, is the only one worth walking. In the event of discouragement remember the tortoise and the hare. Moral of the story? The slow and steady pace wins the race.