What is the cost of Discipleship? That’s a good question. For Jesus it meant his very life…life on earth that is. He asked his disciples to keep vigil with him while he went to the garden to pray. What does keeping vigil mean? The word VIGIL means to STAY AWAKE, TO KEEP WATCH and to BE ON SURVEILLANCE! At that moment, Jesus wasn’t asking them to do anything EXCEPT stay awake and PRAY. That doesn’t sound like much does it? Well, it is for humanity because the world is hostile and full of tricks and schemes to lead us astray. Isaiah 53:6 says that we are all like sheep and have gone astray. It takes a vigilant shepherd to watch over his sheep, and when they do go astray- he goes after them, gently bringing them back to the fold. If one is injured he carries them across his strong shoulders, tending to thier every need until they are able to do it themselves.
I saw this picture in my head last week as I spoke with a friend- the picture of the Shepherd tending his flock. It reminds me of our Pastors. They have felt God’s call on thier lives to be shepherds, to tend to the needs of the people. Not certain people, but ALL people. As someone who has prayed about going into ministry I have tried to put myself in the shoes of the shepherd. It’s not an easy thing to do, even with my vivid imagination!! Today, my heart goes out to all the Pastors across God’s creation, but especially to my own Pastors. They carry a heavy load on thier shoulders and that load requires all of us to join hands and “watch and pray” just as Jesus asked his to Disciples to watch and pray for Him. As United Methodist’s we are called to be and make disciples ( Matthew 28:19) of Jesus Christ. When we do this, we can transform the world one person at a time. The mission of the United Methodist Church is to reach people, to relate to people, to nurture people and to support people. ALL people. It’s not an easy task-but it is one that we can do together. We have to do it God’s way, not our way. Jesus said, ” “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” ( Matthew 26:39 NKJV)
Jesus was grieving over what he had to do and he prayed tears of blood for this to be taken away-but in the end he prayed for the Father’s WILL to be done, not his own. This is what we, as United Methodist’s are to do also. We are called to sacrifice our needs and wants so that God’s WILL can be done. The only we can do this is by being vigilant and falling on our faces in prayer to our Father in heaven. We need to be in constant prayer for the lost, for one another, for our Pastors and leaders and for the church universal. We cannot fall into the tempations of this world or go to sleep on the job. Our Pastors and leaders are counting on us to lift them up in prayer as they tend to the flock. Not everyone is in the fold yet-there are many who have lost thier way and our Pastors and leaders have been burdened with this truth. The shepherd must leave his flock- who are safe and sound- to retrieve the one lost sheep. That one sheep is just as important as the entire flock.
Like the shepherd, we must walk by faith. Sometimes we don’t understand everything, and we don’t even know where we are going, but we have to let that yearning go. No it isn’t easy, but it is something we MUST do. I have trouble with it everyday and I know that the only way I can do it is to be in constant prayer. I have to remind myself everyday to be in tune with God and not the world. It’s not easy but it can be done over time and with a lot of practice. It’s like tuning your radio in to that one particular station that you just love to listen to. God is our preset button and our GPS. I only wish it were as easy as tuning the radio or programming the GPS. But if it were that easy- it wouldn’t be as sweet when we reached the destination!
Power=strength over time. It takes time to do God’s work and God has to work stuff out of each of us to get to the muscle.
We MUST do it GOD’S way. The only way to know how, is to pray and seek His Counsel. He has sent us the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. John 16 says- ” 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. God will make His plan known to each of us in HIS time, not ours. What He has planned for me isn’t what He has planned for you! Can you imagine God doing that? Sending us off in different directions? It’s no fun traveling alone-but it sure can get you right with God if you let it! Once you get it right-you come up alongside others who are traveling that same road in the same direction, but with different gifts, each one not knowing the earthly destination, yet they still walk by faith, sure that God will bring them to His destination for this time. That is part of the cost of Discipleship. It takes humility. We must each humble ourselves before God and ask what He would have us to do. Not the world or our friends, but HIM, God Almighty!
So let’s keep watch and lift up our Pastors and leaders in prayer. Let is lift high the cross of Christ to a hurting and dying world. Let’s join hands and each of use the muscle that we have-together, with God, we can do anything!