Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)
Discipleship Truth: Jesus often surprised His disciples by giving them tasks that they felt incapable of performing. To expand their faith and commitment, He s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d their comfort zones. This stretching process helps believers overcome complacency, apathy, and lethargy. Afterwards, they are equipped to achieve more than previously thought possible (Matthew 16:24-25; Philippians 4:19).
True Story: Kyle and his wife, Bree, knew that Jesus often rose early in the morning to pray. They believed that the first hours of each day were “prime time” to shape their hearts and thoughts. They read business testimonials of entrepreneurs who benefitted from morning routines. Still, Kyle and Bree struggled to get up early. Mornings were Kyle’s least favorite time. In addition, the needs of three small children often meant sleepless nights!
The couple earnestly wanted to develop the discipline of arising early to meet with the Lord, so they decided to fight through the obstacles. As soon as they made the commitment, however, setbacks appeared from every direction: fitful nights of sleep, forgetting to set the alarm, family sicknesses, etc. Kyle lamented, “Surely it can’t be this difficult to have a simple quiet time!” The couple refused to give up. After a month, the obstacles became less frequent and formidable. Their discipline and intentionality was paying off!
As Kyle and Bree met regularly with God each morning, they felt better equipped for each day. Kyle had been prone to frustration with a co-worker; now his fuse was growing longer. Bree had often battled with discouragement; now her perspective was steadier. They had often found reasons to complain about minor concerns; now their thoughts frequently turned to God’s provision.
On some mornings, the snooze button was still very tempting. Yet Kyle and Bree had learned that their personal appointment with God brought far more value than an extra hour of sleep. At first, the sacrifice felt insurmountable and the sleep loss seemed almost foolish. However, the couple soon saw that the benefits far outweighed the cost. Kyle and Bree were now a living testament to this truth—intentional time with God in the mornings (and a cup of coffee!) makes anything possible!
Action Step: Every Christian must embrace the rigors of discipleship. Are you ready to reconsider the cost and rewards of following Christ?
- Begin by “dying daily” to your own interests.
- Invite the Lord Jesus to live His resurrected life in and through you.
- As God s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s you, look for new opportunities to serve. You will experience a higher level of ability to do so.
- Your child will observe your renewed zeal and be encouraged to follow your example.
- Embark on your ascent toward a new summit today—for the glory of God!
Portions of this article taken from the ABCs of Family Discipleship booklet, available here.