51 years ago I decided that I wanted to know how to fly an airplane. Those first flights were exciting even though the plane never flew out of the immediate vicinity of the airport. In those early flights with an instructor I learned the basics of aerodynamics, the control operations of the airplane, and the ‘feel’ of flying. In July, just after my 16th birthday, I went for a lesson and we started out with the routine – the preflight, the review of what maneuvers were planned for me to learn that day, and then up we went for a short flight in the ‘pattern.’
When we landed again in a few moments, the instructor asked me to taxi over to the office where he got out of the airplane. He then said those scary words – “Jerry, go ahead and take her ’round the pattern a couple of times!” When he closed the door and walked away, he left a kid trembling with equal measures of fear and excitement.
It was time to fly solo! If I would not do this, my dream of being a pilot was over. I remember the sweat of fear that dripped from my forehead as I taxied to the end of the runway. My feet literally vibrated on the rudder pedals! For a moment I wondered if I was ready to commit myself to the sky alone in that tiny Cessna 150. In the moment of decision, I pushed in the throttle and the plane started to pick up speed. A gentle tug on the yoke and the wheels broke free of the ground. I was flying solo – a rookie pilot! I could not become a pilot by hanging around the airport, reading magazines about flying, or by sitting in airplanes. I had to commit myself to learning the skills and actually flying a plane.
Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35, NKJV) There is a moment of decision when the Lord asks each one of us, “Are you ready to become my disciple?” We do not become disciples by going to church or joining a ministry or learning Bible verses. They are valuable parts of the process, but one becomes a disciple when there is a moment of decision to answer the Spirit’s call, to relinquish one’s life to the Lordship of Jesus, to live the life in obedience.
Some who claim to be Christian are not disciples, they are dabblers, inquirers, hangers-on who have an interest in Christ, but who have not said the “yes” God’s Spirit asks of us. A person may believe in Jesus, pray, go to church, tithe their income, without being a disciple of Jesus. There is a form of ‘cheap grace’ taught that leads people to believe that they can enjoy the benefits of knowing Jesus without choosing to make Him Lord of life. Disciples know they are followers, not leaders of the parade. They serve the purposes of Another.
Our love of independence, of self-determination, makes the idea of submission to the will of God hard to accept. We wonder how we could possibly be happy with that kind of living. And yet, precisely the opposite is true. When we accept the call to being His disciple, we find life that is full of purpose and one that stretches beyond the end of this earthly existence into eternity. Scripture teaches us that “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)
The promise of life that comes with discipleship eclipses our desires for fame, fortune, and self-fulfillment but it is only discovered after we surrender to His call! Let’s not settle merely for being religious, or knowing about Jesus. We bow our heads and bend our knees to our True Sovereign, following Him to life. Becoming a disciple is a decision made once. Living as a disciple is a choice made each day. Surrender it all, friend. Give yourself away and then walk out the disciplined experience, discovering the adventure of living by the Spirit in this present world, while enjoying the promise of eternal life in the world to come.
The word from the Word –
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)
Lead on O King Eternal
We follow not with fears
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears
Thy cross is lifted o’er us
We journey in its light
The crown awaits the conquest
Lead on O God of might
Lead on O King Eternal
The day of march has come
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home
Thro’ days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong
And now O King eternal
We lift our battle song
Lead on O King Eternal
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet Amen of peace
For not with swords loud clashing
Nor roll of stirring drums
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav’nly kingdom comes