Saturday, March 29, 2014

Covered in Dust

So over a year and a half ago I heard Jen Hatmaker speak on the disciple process in the time of Jesus and for some reason it still sticks with me. I think about it at least weekly and have been processing it for quite some time. The freedom found here is unreal. Below is my paraphrased notes:
"We price ourselves on the education of our children. Under the age of 6 we do not accept a child as a pupil. Above the age of six we stuff him like an ox" Josephus.

The stages of discipleship in the time of Jesus
Stage 1: Bet Sepra (house of the book)
This group was age 6-10 and included both boys and girls. They gave them a stone tablet at the beginning and put honey on it and let the children lick it off. This was a delicacy in this time. They would say "May the word of God be like honey on your lips"
The purpose of this phase was to memorize the Talmud (Genesis-Deuteronomy) Can you imagine a 6-10 year old memorizing hundreds of pages of the Bible?
After this phase, all girls were released to learn skills in the home, a percentage of boys that were not excelling would also be returned to learn their father's trade.

Stage 2 Bet Midrish (House of Learning)
This was the top tier boys age 10-14 who would continue to learn the Hebrew scriptures and learn higher level thinking skills in regards to the scriptures.
Jesus went through these stages of learning, Jesus was 12 in the temple practicing asking questions of the Rabbi and fleshing out the scriptures when his parents couldn't find him.
Rabbis were the most honored and revered people in society. They were traveling teachers who went all over.

Stage 3: Bet Talmud (House of the disciple)
Again the upper tier of the boys from previous stage. These 15 year olds and up would approach a rabbi and request to be his disciple and they would quiz the boy and decide if he could be trusted to carry out the Rabbi's ministry. Many were rejected again at this stage and sent home to learn the father's trade. If the boy was selected it was a huge honor and he would leave everything (family, fathers future business) to follow this Rabbi and learn everything he does.

*This puts a whole new spin on Jesus calling his disciples. He was the Rabbi. Yet he wasn't selecting the cream of the crop of boys who had been educated and passed all tiers of the discipleship training. He sought out the 'failures' and rejects of the process. These men he called were counted as unworthy so they had returned home to follow in their father's footsteps of fishing. Jesus gave these men an opportunity to study under the best rabbi and of course they would drop everything and follow.

Disciples would mimic every single word, rule and teaching of the rabbi they were following. The point was to be exactly like the rabbi that selected you, not evolve into your own teacher. They wanted their teaching to be preserved from generation to generation. Each Rabbi had a list of rules in regards to dress, speech, what you are allowed to eat, Sabbath rules, etc. This was called that Rabbi's "Yoke": the weight of his rules. Like an ox you had to attach yourself to that Rabbi's rules. Yet Jesus said Matt 11:28-30 'Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way and came upon Mary and Martha in Luke 10, Mary sits at the feet of the Rabbi instead of helping prepare (skill of the home). This was considered a waste of time for women in that culture. They would have never had the opportunity to sit at the feet of the Rabbi because they were sent out of the program at age 10 to be home makers. Mary (the same Mary that would pour her inheritance of perfume on her Rabbi's feet) knew the weight of this honor, Martha was so busy plying her trade she missed the opportunity.

It is supremely important that we drink in the words of God Almighty. How can we mimic someone we don't know? Discipleship is an unbelievable honor and unbelievable task.

There was a quote back then that said "May you be ever covered in the dust of your Rabbi's feet". This implied you were following so closely to your rabbi you were always covered in his dust from the journey. This also meant you spent so much time at his feet you were covered in the dust from his feet.  We need to be listeners, learners and doers of Scripture, not out of duty but because it is our honor. He has chosen us, failures, sinners, rejects, to be in a place of such honor- at his feet and following him closely. Yet we are too busy doing our trade that we miss the opportunity to sit at his feet. How I spend my days quickly becomes how I live my life.

Where did Jesus go? Go there. Who did he love? Love them. Where did he spend his time? Invest there. Who did he commit his kingdom to? Pour out there.

Follow so closely behind Jesus you are continually covered in his dust.
This changes everything for me. I am the disciple, the failure that Jesus called, not because he needs me but because he wants me right there with him, learning from him and finding rest. Being a disciple is not drudgery, it is the highest honor. Of course I should drop everything and follow. But how can I follow him if I don't know him. Jesus loved the orphan, the widow, the hungry, the failure, the screw up, the prostitute, the broken. He said if you want to find him he will be at the bottom of the pile with who the world calls the least. So why am I not there? Why do I resist following him there?
This changes everything. My mission is to follow so closely I am covered in his dust. But not to just take on the weight of his rules, because Jesus reversed that. He took on the weight of the law and we got freedom. But why do I settle for deliverance- just being saved- and not live in freedom? I can cast the burden on him and live in the benefit of his freedom. This should free me up to love who he loves, live in grace, walk in love. These truths pour over me frequently, yet sometimes I still get trapped in the monotony and weight and yoke of life. May I ever be covered in his dust.

Monday, March 24, 2014

To Wheeler on his 6th Birthday

Oh my goodness! 6 years. This time last year you were on your way home from your African Adventure. I can hardly believe 6 years has flown by. I remember all of these older women saying to me when you were tiny (and screaming constantly from chronic ear infections) that time will fly by. I remember just trying to make it through the day with an 18 month old and sick newborn, thinking no way is it flying by! But now looking back that time was a blink. 
I am so proud of the man you are becoming. I can see already how God has developed traits in you that I asked for even while I was pregnant. I prayed you would be tender and servant hearted, yet a leader. I prayed you would be generous and kind. Each of those God has answered in the way he is molding your heart. God is building in you courage to make the right choices, even when the crowd goes another way.  A few months ago you came home so concerned because when you mentioned Jesus at school, a girl in your kindergarten class told you he wasn't real.  The shock and concern in your voice as you told me the story was so tender. You wanted her to believe, you didn't understand how she could think he isn't real when he is so good. You told me you would have to just keep telling her Jesus is real and one day she would believe. I pray that fire in your soul continues, year after year, to point others to the realness of Jesus. That is your mission my son. That is why you are on this earth. And why I am. I fail daily in trying to point you to that realness when my sin and selfishness gets in the way and I am impatient or don't take the time with you that you need. I pray even full of flaws I can point you to the one who is perfect in my place.
I told you the other night how brave, strong, kind, courageous and servant-hearted you are. Your only response was a dimple inducing smile across your freckle dusted face.  You are a treasure my son. I pray I can show you the depth of your value in the man God is making you. I pray I can point you to who you are becoming, not just who you are now. I pray Jesus uses me to draw out your leadership and influence you will steward over others. I pray God continues to pull on your heart the plight of the orphan, the homeless, the diseased and people living in poverty.  That has got to me one of my favorite stories of you, walking through the slums of Kenya, high-riving and hugging and kissing each little kid that ran up to you. No obstacles to loving those different from you in color or wealth. Just a kid loving on other kids. 
My love for you goes beyond explanation. I love how you desire time with me so much. Whether its 5 games of Sorry in a row, a few minute snuggle, a story, game of tennis or scooter ride, you crave time. 

God has big plans for you. I don't have the slightest idea as to what they are, but I am so honored to walk alongside you in the adventure God has called you to. His story is big, it is wild, and he has a part just for you. Not because he needs us, but because he desires to be right next to you just as I do, even more. 
Keep drawing close to Him Wheeler,
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