The Call of a Disciple
by Maria Beiler
Honestly, I was pitying myself. I wasn't throwing a big pity party, but definitely feeling bad for myself and for our family.
A brand new nephew had just been born and we were all absolutely delighted. We’d been looking forward to this day for so long! A cousin for our children, a new baby in the family; what could possibly be more exciting?!
But we’re so far away. That morning we felt very, very far away. In fact, Pennsylvania had never seemed so far away before, and I felt weepy and homesick. All I really wanted to do was sit in Claudia’s living room and hear her story and snuggle little Canon; I wanted my kiddos to meet their new cousin and get to know him; we’re family after all, and families belong together, right? I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to be able to lead my little clan up the long flight of stairs to Claudia’s house to drop off a cute little package and some fresh homemade food.
My mind was spinning with questions. What are we doing, trying to live so far away from our friends and family? What were we thinking, anyway? Who in their right mind would do this? It’s not fair that everyone else gets to be together and we’re so far away. This is too hard! I wiped the occasional tear as my mind continued to spin.
Then there was chapel, and I don’t know if anyone else heard anything that morning, but I know that God knew exactly what I needed to hear right then.
“Are you ready to give up your life?” asked the speaker.
Have you renounced your own life to follow Jesus? Have you responded to His call to give up everything and follow Him? Do you really understand all that Jesus is asking when He calls your name and says, “Follow me.”?
The speaker was preaching from the passage in the Gospels where Jesus repeatedly asks Peter, “Do you love me?” In reading the story, we begin to feel a bit of frustration from Peter: “Jesus, you know that I love you, so why do you keep asking?”
It’s a question that begs asking in our lives too: “Do I love Jesus?”
Of course we say that we love Him, but I mean do we really, truly love Him, and do our lives bear evidence of a deep, profound love?
The message that morning brought a sharp sting of conviction to me. How can I say that I deeply, truly love Jesus and not be willing to abandon my personal comforts and wishes to follow Him?
As I sat there in chapel, God and I had this little conversation, with me again trying to sort out my thoughts. But Jesus, what if I’d rather live a more comfortable life? What if I’m just not into this whole “deny yourself” business after all? He immediately brought this verse to my mind: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” (John 15:16, ESV)
Oh, so you mean it’s not really up to me?
Well, do you want to be my disciple or not?
Matthew 16:24 (ESV) – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
We know Jesus doesn’t force anyone to follow Him; that’s a choice He gives to each one of us, but when we say “yes” and choose to follow Him, we’re saying yes to His plans for us, whatever they may be. Being a Christian isn’t just about “getting saved,” it’s about giving up everything that we have been, are, or ever will be in exchange for everything that God is.
Have you completely surrendered every single aspect of your life to Jesus, or are there areas you’re still holding back?
Jesus said this to His disciples, and it’s still true today:
Luke 14:26, 27, 33 (ESV) – 26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 33. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Those are pretty strong words. I don’t see a lot of space in there for “come be my disciple, but you can still live your own life however you wish…” No, Jesus lays it out clearly: If you want to be my disciple, you have to give up everything. If you’re not ready to give up everything, you can’t be my disciple.
We look at other people around us and try so hard to justify ourselves: But Jesus, what about him? What are you asking him to give up? But that’s really none of our business; Jesus is saying to you and me, “Follow me.” Every one of us needs to respond personally to His call. Yes, He calls everyone, but he’s looking for individual responses from each one.
I still wish every day that I could hold little Canon, and there’s nothing fun about missing out on my mom’s birthday party or my friend’s wedding. I don’t imagine it’s ever going to be truly easy, but Jesus has asked me to give up all that I am and all that I have in exchange for all that He is. In simple words, His call to each one of us is this: “What you have, leave it. What I have, take it.”
I love the response of Peter, James and John when Jesus called them to follow him: “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” (Luke 5:11)
What will you do with the call of Jesus? How are you going to respond?
Maria is a wife, mama, and disciple of Jesus. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. Pink tulips, iced coffee, good conversations, and handwritten notes are a few of her favorite things. She is passionate about discipleship and victorious Christianity.