I have spent the majority of the years of my adult life plumbing the depths of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I crave to be more than just a nominal Christian whose only concern is eternity.
Rather, I fiercely desire to be a woman whose earthly life is a vibrant testimony of the riches that Christ offers this side of heaven's shore.
I don't want to be like me—I want to be like Him. I don't want to grovel for riches, honor and fame—I want to die to self and live for Him. I don't want to make a name for myself or reach the pinnacle of earthly living—I want to live wholly and only for Christ and for His unshakable Kingdom.
What do you want?
I am still learning what it means to be a disciple of Christ, even in my sixth decade of living for Him. I am currently learning that discipleship is a journey and not a destination; it is a process and not a finish line.
Jesus does not exaggerate what discipleship requires nor does he lure us into it with the absurd advertising techniques of the 21stt century. Jesus told His disciples the truth over 2,000 years ago, and the truth rings yet today.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24-25).
The cost of discipleship is steep, yet fulfilling; it is impossible, yet exhilarating. A disciple initially does not know what he or she is in for but they lay their own will at the altar of sacrifice and choose the higher way of Christ. The "higher way of Christ" may entail stormy seas of circumstance, difficult mountain ranges of heartbreak and arid deserts of loneliness. But a disciple presses on with the Word of God for sustenance, prayer for refreshment and service as companionship.
Our Master, the one we are following, walked a cruel and painful road; as His servants we are certainly not greater than our kind Master.
As I travel along the improbable road of becoming a disciple of Christ, I have found that my dearest companion on this journey is the gift of joy. Joy strengthens me, it propels me, and it stabilizes my erratic heart. Joy is the oil of His presence that reminds me I am never alone.
I have chosen to follow Christ and to make it my daily goal to become like Him this side of eternity. The call to discipleship is not solitary, but it is friendship with Jesus; the intention to be a disciple is the highest, most glorious ambition a human being can embrace.
And so, I will carry on. I will say with Jesus, "Not my will, Father, but Your will be done."
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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