Look at the Beach! (a lesson on discipleship)
A few weeks ago, we were able to go to the beach down in Fort Morgan- and it was awesome. It was the first year since we have had kids that both LOVED the beach. My one year old, Grady, was loving every part of it. He was comfortable in sand, pool, ocean- it was awesome to watch. His mission everyday on the beach was to go around and sit in every chair. And he did it with a smile and a shirt that said “Ahoy Ladies.” And my 4 year old, Aubryn, turned fearless on this trip. Swimming with no floaties, playing in the ocean for hours, jumping in to the pool. It was such a joy to watch both of them! (and terrifying at the same time. Two fearless kids may be a problem.)
Before the trip, I had been really wrestling with discipleship defined. And I know the typical answers and the different approaches but for me personally and our church, The Branch, what did it look like?
And it hit me in the ocean with my awesome four-year-old. We were having a blast playing in the ocean but the waves kept hitting her in the face and getting water in her mouth. Snot running everywhere, coughing, crying, eye rubbing… then bam! Hit again. So I would pick her up, get her calmed down and cleaned up, and put her in the water. And this was our next hour.
“Checkerwood, (thats what I call her- don’t judge) – when the waves are coming, look at the beach! The water can’t get in your face then.” So we are playing and having fun- waves come, and I am saying over and over “Look at the beach!!!” The first 15 minutes was a disaster- she was wanting me to hold her, crying- but I insisted “Look at the beach! Its simple!”
Then, it started clicking for her. It was a very simple truth. Look at the beach and you won’t get splashed in the face. And she started turning her body when the waves would come. And then it happened. It clicked. It turned into muscle memory. We were playing, chasing each other, getting sea shells, acting like we were the turtles from Finding Nemo, and when a wave would come, I wouldn’t say a word. She would face the beach and then we would keep playing.
From this interaction, here is how I have started defining Discipleship.
Discipleship= Simple Truth + Given Opportunity.
Most discipleship looks like me sitting in the condo explaining to Aubryn why waves are there, what rip tide is, what the red, yellow, and purple flag mean, what is in the ocean, etc. But, we never actually get in the ocean. And when she does, she goes without my guidance, gets beat up in the waves, and leaves feeling discouraged. She knows the truth, but has no framework for applying that knowledge in a practical way. (is this sounding like your discipleship journey yet?)
Instead, I give her one very simple truth, and we don’t move forward an until she has an opportunity to apply what she has learned. Simple Truth+ Given Opportunity.
Does she know everything there is to know about the ocean? Or how to swim? Or what to do in a bad situation? No.
But does she get to enjoy life as she applies that one truth?? YES!! And will she forget it?? NO!
I can’t make this part up- when the others that were with us were coming out into the ocean, she was telling everyone- LOOK AT THE BEACH! haha! When you learned a life-changing truth and know how to apply it- when you have tasted and seen that it is good, then you tell it. When you aren’t only convinced in word that it is truth, but when it is truth and word and action, you can’t help to talk about it.
My role? Teaching a simple truth. Giving her an opportunity. And not giving up on her or moving on until she has learned to apply it.
Next year, maybe we will work on the boogy board.
Any maybe today, i will teach someone what the Bible says about God’s forgiveness. And not move on until they get it. I will not move to another topic until they have been given an opportunity to live in that forgiveness. It may take a while, but they joy that comes from understanding that one truth will be like a four year old playing in the ocean with the biggest smile on her face and a giggle that only comes from pure joy.