November 24, 2022 — Don’t go away; Draw near

“I was reading in Mark’s gospel last night,” Stan commented, “and I saw a simple statement that reminded me of something that very nearly happened to me.”

“What simple statement was that?” I asked.

“At the very end of a particular verse,” Stan replied, “Mark wrote about some people who left Jesus and went away. And the same thing almost happened to me.”

“What same thing?”

“Soon after I came to faith,” Stan replied, “and I started pursuing being a disciple, not just a convert, the cost of discipleship became clear and I almost concluded that the cost was too high.”

Continuing, he added, “I was almost to the same point as the people Mark was writing about. I was on the verge of leaving Jesus and going away.”

“Why?”

“I was finding the basic steps of discipleship to be more than I could handle,” Stan said. “I just couldn’t get to the points of consistently denying myself, taking up what God had for me to take up, and, or course, I could not follow. Rather than deny myself, I wanted to exalt myself. And rather than take up what God had for me to take up, I wanted to do what I wanted to do apart from Him. Then, of course, was the part about not following.”

“And you were ready to walk away?” I asked.

“Hate to admit it,” Stan replied, “but I was. The cost of discipleship just seemed to be too high. But I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t walk away and leave.”

“And why didn’t you?” I asked.

“It was a verse in James’ letter,” Stan replied, “The one about drawing near to God and having Him draw near to me.”

“How’d that work?” I asked.

“After reading the verse in James’ letter,” Stan replied, “I prayed and told God exactly what I was feeling about the cost of discipleship being too high, that I was having trouble and that I needed His help.”

“Then what?”

“I had the most amazing sense of peace,” Stan said, “as it was made clear to me that the role of the Holy Spirit is to help. That’s why He’s in us!”

“And did He help?” I asked.

“He certainly did,” Stan replied. “He showed me how foolish it would be to walk away from God rather than to continually seek to draw nearer to Him. Discipleship’s not that tough; it just takes some choices that, on our own, may seem hard.”

___________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And so they left Him, and went away. Mark 12:12.

And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away. Matthew 22:22.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:28.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of Jesus as the way to you for eternity. Thank you, too, for the provision of discipleship on this side of eternity while I wait for the train. I confess that too often I do not deny myself, I do not take up what you have for me to take up, and I do not follow as you intend. Rather, it’s like I leave and walk away from you. Please forgive that foolishness. Help me to follow every step of your lead in being a disciple who denies, takes up, and follows wherever, however, and whenever just as you want. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you chosen to accept God’s provision of life with Him eternally? If no, why would you not accept His free and gracious gift? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, are you pursuing discipleship in a way that does not look like you have left Jesus and gone away? If you sense the need for change in your view of pursuing discipleship beyond conversion, how is that going to happen and what does it look like to you? Is discipleship what you want? Is it worth the cost? Why or why not?

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