The idea of being “the thirteenth disciple” that Suzanne Eller suggests in her final chapter of Come with Me has been stirring in my mind and heart since I finished reading her book.
Why had I never considered that reality before now?
As I consider the life of the original twelve disciples and where they walked with Him, how they fellowshipped with Him, what they witnessed, and what they suffered, I am always impacted. The photographs of those very places stir my vision further.
What I have been confronted with is that the story does not end after the gospels. We see disciples being added in the book of Acts even though their names are not as familiar perhaps as the original twelve except maybe Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, and Timothy.
It can be far too easy to hold the Bible in our hands and read it as we would a history book. It does indeed tell us a grand history rich with stories, poems, battles, adventures, and prophecies that paint pictures of places, creatures, and happenings beyond our imagination.
But it is more than that…
The Bible is a living, breathing document of God’s creation and interaction with His creation. It doesn’t end when we finish reading the last chapter even though the last chapter signifies the end of what is considered “the inspired Word of God”. It goes on reaching out to new disciples, transforming hearts, and lives.
New stories are being added to His glory and for His honor.
They are our stories, our pieces of His story. They too are leaving a legacy, an imprint for those who come after us to follow.
If I, if we, are the thirteenth disciple and believe it, how will that influence the story? How will it influence how I spend my time, my gifts, and my resources?
I am not suggesting my story is on a par with those of the apostles, Paul, or the other early disciples we read about. You might feel yours is not that significant or special either, but those I speak of and we revere were really not men anyone would have written about or considered to be important until they had walked with Jesus and He transformed their lives.
He entrusted the whole of His ministry on this earth to a ragtag group of men without degrees, status, position, or power. He wanted them to “pass it on” through what they experienced “with” Him with the Holy Spirit He had promised would come to help them.
Isn’t He, aren’t they, entrusting each one of us in the same way? He’s entrusted it to us as well.
You may well say you are not teaching and preaching, but if you are reading a Bible story to your child or a group of children in a Sunday School class are you not spreading the gospel? If you are praying for the sick, are you not living out His example?
If you are daily seeking the Lord and desiring to be used by Him, is not your life demonstrating a witness that says you are different in some way from others who have not been transformed?
We may not even say a great deal and yet those whose lives interact with us are looking at a living, breathing disciple and our lives are being read daily by family, friends, neighbors, and others.
When I pause to consider such things, I am sobered.
What does my walk look like?
Am I listening as He did?
Am I noticing “the least of these” as He did?
Am I loving without distinction as He did?
In truth, if I am grading myself, I am not persuaded that I am being as much like Him as I would wish or as much as He wants me to be.
Looking at the disciples who came before me points to how I can improve.
Being a disciple means spending time with Jesus, walking and talking with Him, observing what He is up to, gleaning truth from what He has said and is saying. It means being strengthened in the community of other like-minded believers/disciples, but not spending all my time focusing on meeting with them. It means not just listening to others talk about Him, but knowing Him for myself, leaning against Him, becoming familiar with His voice.
Light shines brightest in dark places.
I think if I am to keep in mind that I am the thirteenth disciple, I start with listening for His words to me each day to hear where “come with me” takes me.
Each of our paths will be different.
Where is He taking yours?