We only have record of a few disciples that Jesus personally singled out to follow him, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Matthew (Levi), are about it. Though He chose each one - just as we were chosen. Huge crowds followed Jesus - yet His teaching demanded more than most people were willing to give. Most walked away. The race was too hard, too demanding.
Numbers. There were the 12 disciples, he sent out 70 to preach, and after his death and resurrection, 120 waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit. One hundred twenty. The sum total of His ministry. The road may seem lonely.
Jesus. God came to earth in the form of man. What must it have been like to listen to His teaching - to sit at His feet like Mary, Lazareth's sister, to daily witness miracles, to hear Him proclaim God's word in power in the Temple courts, to see and receive His compassion, to hear His stinging responses to the religious leaders that opposed Him.
Discipleship. Following Jesus. Being called out to walk in His path. To share the fatigue, the danger, the toil, the death threats. Giving - always giving. People pressing, people seeking, people joining, people rejecting. Such heights of joy and victory, such depths of despair.
Receiving. Sharing private moments as a group, receiving teaching reserved just for you. His love, His mercy, His acceptance, His grace. Witnessing His mastery over the violent storm, over the violent demon possessed man, over those who sought to discredit and destroy. Hearing the voice of God bear witness to Him....
You are there. One day you go to work, just another day... feed the family, pay the taxes, worry about the oppressive Roman government... but that day forever alters your life. You meet Jesus, He calls to you. After about a year, discipled and mentored by the creator of the universe, He sends you out to teach, preach and cast out spirits. Just like you saw Him do... What a thrill!
Yet He is led off, is beaten. You see Him crucified. Your dreams, your spirit - crushed. A moment in time that seems to last forever. Then you see Him - risen. You marvel... yet there is so much more. He may have left, but He isn't finished with you. He is about to punch the hyper-space button, the after-burners. Hang on for the ride of your life. It begins with a prayer meeting.
After you see him ascend on a cloud into heaven, and gathering and praying with 120 others, you are overwhelmed by the glory and grace of the Holy Spirit. Never have you experienced such power, such peace, such joy - you shout aloud. Now the years of hardship and discipleship all make sense. His Word comes to life in your mind and on your tongue. Scriptures you have known since childhood mingle with His words spoken to the crowds - now it is you sharing with the crowds, like He did. You speak with His authority.. with His guidance, with His Spirit.
Train hard. Run the race with determination, run it to win. Mile after mile, over hills, across rivers, through mountains, forests - plains. Run patiently. He runs along side you - encouraging, prompting, warning, directing, guiding, coaching. You are never alone, not for a moment.
Train, run, endure, win. The prize is great! The sweat is worth it!
"Give me a road to travel, a race that I can run, Give me a heart like your heart to stand until you come. Give me a heart like your heart, beating for the lost, Give me a love like your love, no matter what the cost.*"
Where is your road... your race? Train, run, endure, win. The reward is great!
* From "Give me a Heart" on Praise Band 9 by Maranatha! Music