Disciple: A pupil; one who is in a place of learning. To this end, we can all admit we are disciples - in a place of learning. As Jesus faced his disciples day after day, his main purpose was to help them learn what it meant to have the Kingdom of God in their midst - the presence of God dwelling among them. Isn't this the purpose of all our tests and trials - to get us to the place we understand we have the presence of God within us at all times? Disciples have sever unique characteristics, but I think the one which becomes most evident is the awareness of the presence of God - the Teacher, instructing those who remain in a place of willing submission to his teaching.
Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. (Luke 14:33 MSG)
A disciple doesn't concern themselves with the "what can I do" mentality in life. Instead, they make the shift from the "what can I do" to the "what will Jesus do in and through me" if I yield to him right now. What a disciple does well is to bring God into the picture. The disciples who traveled with Christ day after day had a purpose - they went ahead to get a place ready, to find the meals, to prepare a meeting spot, etc. They were preparing the way for God to be "brought into the picture" for those out ahead of them. Even when they didn't do a good job of preparing, they still had an active role in bringing God into picture - such as when they were told to see how much food they could scrounge up to feed the 5,000. There role was to get the loaves and fish - preparing the way for God to be brought into the picture for those who sat on the hillside hungry and worn.
Maybe one of the things which keeps us from being a disciple - one willing to be taught at the feet of the Teacher - is our fear of the adventure. All of life is an adventure, but not all in life are adventurers! Adventurers are willing to get out of their comfort zone - to enter a new realm. My grandson is an adventurer - a creator of sorts. He often wants to go and do what others haven't done before - maybe because he is spurred on by the survivalist shows he watches, but most likely because he has this creative and always learning mind. One thing I noticed about him - he is always looking for the possibilities. He doesn't limit himself by the impossible - but is always looking for the way around, through, or over the impossible. I think God honors that kind of heart in each of his disciples - willing to move beyond the impossible into the realm of possibility.
Disciples don't always have an explanation for what it is they learn at the feet of the Teacher. There are just some things of God's grace, wisdom, and majesty we can only reflect, but will never fully understand. Sometimes this is all God asks of his disciples - the willingness to reflect him, even when we don't understand all we are reflecting. It is the things we sometimes don't understand which have the greatest impact in the lives of those touched by them. God is busy behind the scenes creating things greater than we will ever be able to take credit for - simply because he is using us to bring him into the picture of those within our circle.
Probably the most telling characteristic of a disciple is the abandoning of all other alternatives to follow the Teacher - to listen to his voice, obey his teachings, and to see his glory displayed in our midst. In other words, we allow a shift of priorities to occur so what once consumed so much of our focus begins to be abandoned - laid aside - for the magnificence of what Christ does when he is brought into our present. For most, abandonment is kind of a scary concept. It means the leaving of something we often consider to be quite secure and comfortable in order to embrace something with seemingly less comfort, and therefore, the perception of it also being less secure. When I get on a plane, I am abandoning my need to remain in contact with the earth - placing my trust in the pilot to successfully bring me from point A to B. I abandon my control because one who knows better than I how to operate the plane is at the controls. All the Teacher asks of the disciple is to be willing to abandon themselves in similar manner - knowing the control is best left in his hands.
Sure, the disciple is asked to participate in the revelation of the Teacher. We do this best when we reflect his actions - things like grace, purpose, and love. What we have the power of bringing into the midst of any situation is the connection of the pupil with the Teacher - to open the way for God to come on the scene. Maybe if we'd abandon ourselves to this purpose today, we'd see what God might just reveal when we do! Just sayin!