Each year the students of Chris Blake’s sophomore-level editing class at Union College produce the February issue of OUTLOOK. Since our overall theme for 2014 is discipleship, we asked the students to share, through their own experiences, what discipleship means to them.
Following are two stories of overcoming and growing into disciples. “Obligations” is written by Maegan Luckiesh, a senior communication major from Lincoln, Nebraska. “Jacob” is written by Slade Lane, a senior language arts education major from Grand Junction, Colorado. To view the print version (designed by Steven Foster) see page 8 of the February 2014 issue, available at outlookmag.org/print-issues.
I am so sneaky. Slowly, I backed away from the door and searched for signs of anyone stirring inside the room. At two o’clock in the morning I assumed everyone would be asleep, but in a mission as essential as mine, I could not take any chances. Okay, the package is in place. Now I just have to make it back to my room before anyone sees me.
I had only spoken to Lily twice before noticing how depressed she was. She told me how she felt alone and unloved. She didn’t have many friends and hated boarding school, but didn’t feel happy at home either. She was both stuck and lost at the same time. I had been through a similar experience my first year of high school and wanted to show her someone cared.
I spent a few days trying to figure out what to do. Then, deciding to make her a care package, I took food from a present I had received in the mail and filled a basket to secretly give her. In went Rice Krispies Treats, Little Debbies, Cheetos and chocolate.
Then I added notes that were supposed to look like they were written by a bunch of people who loved her.
I never told Lily what I had done. However, one night she knocked on my door. Staring me down she pulled out one of the notes and asked, “Was this you?”
“Yes,” I hesitantly replied. “How did you know?” Lily started crying.
She had compared the note to all the signatures in her yearbook. Hugging me like her life depended on it, she told me the package made her decide to try to live her life instead of just survive it.
I have tried many ways to disciple. Sometimes I only tried with people because I felt obligated to.
My senior year as a resident assistant I was obligated to take care of my girls. I spent a year trying to make a difference in their lives. Nothing I did that year, out of obligation, came remotely close to the difference I made for Lily.
The best way to be a disciple is to stop trying to fill obligations and let God lead you. Matthew 6:2 states, “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get” (NLT).
I never wanted Lily to figure out what I had done, but knowing now what one act of love can do, I yearn to live my life showing people God.
The question hung in the air, waiting for my reply. “Do you want to come with us to talk to Jacob?” Shandon and Jordan stood outside my dorm room door. Neither was the type of guy to look concerned, to not smile or crack a joke. Yet now their eyes welled with concern. Their lips never cracked a smile.
“I think I’ll pass,” I said, chuckling nervously. “I don’t think I’m the right guy to be there for that conversation. I don’t know what I’d say.”
“Alright. It’s cool man. We think Jacob’s going through some stuff right now and we should be there for him.” They headed down the hall toward Brent’s room. I shut my door. I thought of the night before. We had been just a couple of guys messing around, trying to dig up any embarrassing dirt on Jacob’s computer before we watched “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
We found secrets. We found pictures. We found out Jacob was gay.
Jacob welcomed me when I first went to boarding school. In our sophomore English class we made a play. We both loved video games like “Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts.” He would let me play his Nintendo 64 emulator on his computer. And for a dollar Jacob would happily sell me a soda.
I never stopped loving or caring for Jacob. But playing video games together, watching bootlegged TV shows, and my midnight runs to Jacob’s room for a Mountain Dew all but stopped.
Without knowing it, I rolled up my welcome mat and tucked it away in some dark corner. I thought that’s all I could do.
“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me’” (Luke 9:46-48). Jesus seemed capable—no—He seemed more than that. It thrilled Jesus to sit with little children. He rolled out the welcoming mat for beggars, for prostitutes, for criminals, for heterosexuals and homosexuals—all lost souls.
I only saw Jacob in class and around the dorm every now and then when I would go to his room to buy a soda. For the rest of the school year we didn’t hang out much. Still loving him and caring for him didn’t do a lot. I don’t think he knew it or saw it in me. Jacob wouldn’t have been wrong if all he saw in me was a shut door with no welcome mat. What gets in the way of being a disciple is when we forget “He who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” We are all children of God. Jesus welcomes every thief, beggar, prostitute, heterosexual, homosexual, child, and everything we are into His presence.
We can do more for the least among us. I wish Jacob could see my door open. My welcome mat is brushed of dirt, ready to welcome him—tell him he’s the greatest.
But Jacob didn’t return to school. I miss Jacob. I really do.