When we first moved to Venice I prayed asking the Lord to bring into my life someone He wanted me to disciple. Prayer is always the best way to start the journey of discipling.
Now I never see a neon sign saying “Disciple this woman.” Instead, it’s more like it says in Isaiah 40:11, “He gently leads those who have young.” When someone gently leads you, there is a need to be sensitive to that leading.
It’s like when you lead a blind person – you don’t hold them by the hand and yank them where they need to go. Instead you place your hand lightly on the back of their elbow and through gentle pressure indicate if they need to go right or left. They still have a choice whether they’ll go that way and unless they are focusing its easy to miss such cues.
Bottom line: it’s a process that very much involves both parties.
I find this is such a great picture of the way the Lord often leads. He doesn’t force me to go His way. But if I’m sensitive, if I’m seeking to know and open to going the way He leads, it’s amazing how present I find He is and He is always so faithful to guide. The more I follow Him, the more I seek to be aware of Him, the more I am learning to recognize His gentle leading.
This requires intentionality on my part. I find when I pray, “Lord, where are you at work? Would you please show me and give me wisdom to know how you want me to join in?” does this ever help!
And it doesn’t usually start with Him saying “I want you to disciple this person.” It’s more like meeting your husband. Rarely do people know the second they lay eyes on someone, “This is who I’m going to marry.” Relationships tend to start with small steps – a conversation, doing things together, and in the process sensing whether you should move forward in the relationship or not.
I’ll never forget going to the Harvest Festival at Venice Bible church back in 1993. As we waited in line to get in I started talking with the woman in front of me. Before we even reached the front door I learned she’d recently come to know Jesus and started coming to church.
When I heard that, I asked if she would like to get together so I could show her something that really helps me in my walk with the Lord. She said yes and the next week we got together and shared a quiet time. She was so excited! And so eager to learn more! So then I asked if she’d like to get together the next week and soon a beautiful discipling relationship and friendship began!
But you know, it never would’ve happened if I hadn’t taken initiative. First to pray, then to start up a conversation as we waited in line. Then as we talked and I heard she was a new believer, I really sensed the Lord saying, “You’ve learned something that could really benefit her. Ask if she’d be interested in doing this with you.”
Now the hard part about asking is you never know what a person’s response will be. They could take offense, flat out refuse or look at you as if you’re crazy… you just never know. It’s definitely putting yourself out there for possible rejection. For me, that’s never easy!
One time I cried out to the Lord, “I am so tired of always being the one to initiate!” and He responded, “Now you’re getting a taste of what it’s like for me! No one seeks after me (Romans 3:11) unless I’ve taken the first step! And even I get rejected.”
So when people respond with no, and that does happen, I have to remind myself, they aren’t rejecting me. I am God’s ambassador! I’m just repping Him! Like a mailman delivering the goods. If a package is refused it’s not about the mailman!
It’s so important I don’t personalize but instead view it as the Lord re-directing me to someone else. In truth I only have time to invest in a limited number of women. Jesus discipled twelve, my maximum capacity is usually four! So it’s really a blessing when a door closes that He doesn’t want me going through!
But when someone says yes! What a gift it is each time I get to join in with what the Lord is doing in a woman’s life. It truly is like a front row seat getting to see Him in action transforming her! And does it ever make the uncertainty and even refusals worth it!