There is a process, or pattern that is followed during the course of discipleship. As you continue to read ask yourself this question, "Where do I find myself?"
Please be aware, this post is to be used as a tool to help you on your journey. As everyone is at a different point in the journey, do not let it define, limit or discourage you. Let it be a light and encouragement to you on your journey. Let it spark new life and light on your quest to get to emulate, know, and learn from the master, Jesus Christ.
1. The beginning of a true Discipleship begins with Observation and desire. We feel that there is more out there. We see something in those who are living the disciple life. We watch them and see who they are. They become an example to us. We see they have that something that we want, yet we may not know really what it is. We feel a desire to know more and have that "something" in our lives. We sense a spark inside that tells us there is a better way. We begin to ask questions and seeking the answers which leads us to the second step.
See James 2:14-26
Unfortunately this is the part of it that is hard. This is where so many lose the spark and the fire that was started. We forget that we had a desire to be close to him and build his kingdom. That spark begins to fade. We get distracted and we tend to put other things before God. In the sermon on the mount Jesus Christ himself warned us in Matthew 6:33 to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." There are many things that keep us from doing that which we know it right. There are so many things going on in world that often we forget to show up (we don't go to church, pray, read his words, or even think of him for days on end). Or maybe we show up and do these things but with no real intent for gaining anything from it, in other words we sit back and do not engage in the training. To be a disciple you have to first show up, and then engage in the process. Showing up is a good start, but fully engaging in the process is vital.
There are many that think they are engaged, but in truth these are people who put things like praying, reading the scriptures, going to church etc. on the daily "To do" list. These things are just items to do that are mixed in with all the other daily activities. There are many who are just going through the motions taking no thought as to why. Many of our young people are finding themselves in this place. They are going through the actions with no basis for understanding of why they are doing and it's importance in their life. In my last post I wrote about our Bishop encouraging us to teach our children to understand the basics and why we do them. Magic happens when you show up work hard and understand (at least in part) why you are doing it.
It is often hard to keep going at something when you do not understand why or you get no satisfaction from doing it. I am reminded of a time this lesson that was taught to me by a simple story........ A man sent out an ad in the local paper desiring to hire many people to come and work for him. He offered them a high daily wage. He got many eager responses and hired them all. The work was simple; dig a hole. All morning long they dug this hole, then in the afternoon the instructions were to fill the hole back in. Then the man instructed that they should come back again tomorrow. The next day, only a portion of them showed back up. They went to work and the same thing happened, dig a hole, fill it back in. Some began to complain. It was work, and they were grateful as there was not much work otherwise, but there was no satisfaction in digging a hole and filling it back in. This pattern of dig a hole, fill it back in continued on for many days. Each day fewer and fewer people were showing up daily until one day just one man showed up for work. That day he was given a large sum of money and asked to become a personal assistant to the man who had hired him. He had been trustworthy to do all that had been asked of him.
Why do I share this little story? It is like our discipleship. We often show up, do the work, yet we do not find any fulfillment or understanding in it. Praying and reading the scriptures, attending church it becomes a lot like this story, dig a hole and fill it in. We are often tempted to quit and give up the fight. Often this happens just as the master is ready to take us under his wing and begin a true apprenticeship under his direction. He is watching and will teach us as we are ready to learn line upon line precept upon precept. (see Issiah 28:10) .
One of my favorite examples of this process that I am explaining comes from the movie Karate kid, a popular movie in the 80's. Daniel is a young man who is being bullied by other boys who know karate. He has a desire to learn karate. Mr. Miyagi agrees to teach him karate. Daniel shows up to begin his karate training and Mr. Miyagi puts him to work waxing the cars, painting the fence, refinishing the deck, and paining the house. All this work being done day after day while Mr. Miyagi is off "doing his thing". Daniel can no longer stand it, he came to learn karate and he feels that Mr. Miyagi is not teaching him. He also feels Mr. Miyagi is just using him to get all the repairs made on his home.
They have a confrontation in which Daniel comes apart. He lets the old master know that he can find someone else to do this work. He is upset, to the breaking point. It is at this point of the movie that Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that he has been preparing him to learn. Daniel is now ready to be taught by the master.
Here is a link to that portion of the movie. The picture is not super great, but it is the best edited version that I found. (taking out the swearing parts)
Karate kid begins to understand.
Often we have to revisit steps one and two. We have to re-evaluate why we believe. We have to rekindle the desires. If you find your fire going out and your faith beginning to dim, re-evaluate. You are not alone. Pray for understanding. Dig in your heels and get to work. Do those things that are asked of you. It will come. You will begin to gain enlightenment and move on to the next step.
3A. Conscious level give yourself up to the Lord, Your will, not mine be done. This is where the daily fundamentals begin to have meaning. We begin to feast upon the words of Christ. We are doing more than just reading the words of Christ, we begin living them. This is where you sit up and pay attention during church meetings. This is where you have more than just a small desire to believe, this is where you give yourself to training with the master. This is where we go and do "all that he has asked" not just what is convenient. It is where we have a real commitment to him. We have a wiliness to learn and a willingness to change. This is where we begin to become out of the world and it's snares. This is where the spirit can sanctify us and cleanse us. It is where we prepare to live in the eternities with Christ.
It is hard work and it takes a commitment on many levels. It means making the right choices all the time, not part time. It is becoming totally honest (no more white lies) etc. It is hard, and you have to often ask yourself What would Jesus Do then doing it. It means consciously choosing the right every single time. As time goes on you find yourself asking what is the right way less and less, the choices become easier and more automatic. You continue to work hard and more and more your will is swallowed up into his, then one day you find yourself totally in the realm of step 4.
4. Unconscious level being Christ like in all we do; it is who we are inside and out. We do it without thinking. The words have sunk so deep in our hearts it is a part of us. We have become like the master. In this place there is no room for darkness. In this place you don't have to question the right thing to do. It just comes naturally without question. You are full of virtue. You have put of the "natural man" you have overcome the lusts and desires of the flesh. The things of the world have no hold on you.
A small example from my own life. A number of years ago I was in a little fender bender. A car hit me and to the surprise of my passenger, I jumped out of the car and went to see if the person who hit me was ok. Then I asked about the passengers of his car. My own passenger on the other hand was so taken back by my reaction. She said to me "I can't believe you went to see if they were ok, I would have checked my car to see the damage first. The other people would have been last on my list" It was at this time that I realized that my car may be damaged. I had no thought about my car, I just was focused on making sure everyone was ok. It was just natural. Someone might have be hurt and that was all that mattered. It was no other thought but to think about the other person. It was a part of me. In this small way I had "become" like Christ. I am still working on it. Everyday I have challenges to meet. But I am following in his ways as he has said in Luke 9:23 anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me"
My desire for this blog is not to boast of myself. It is not about where I am on the path. It is about all of you out there, my readers and friends. It is about teaching others what it means to "Come unto Christ and pick up that cross". It is about helping those who are struggling. It is about teaching and learning.
I hope that if you have felt something; if your heart of faith is pounding inside of you, take note. Ask "what next?" the Lord will answer you. He will show you the way. I hope you will have the courage to make those changes as inspired by the spirit.
My blessing I sent to all of you,