A Good Disciple Is One Who Leaves
When have you followed Jesus in a new direction?
At a Galveston hospital, a Filipino nurse named Rosalie was working the night shift. Her patients included an engineer with a broken arm, a man with renal disease, and a diabetic who had lost his left foot to his disease.
All through the night, Rosalie worked hard, caring for her patients, and then she “went out into the sun-scrubbed morning with a satisfied yawn.” In a book on Rosalie, journalist Jason DeParle writes about how “Celtic pilgrims talk of ‘thin places’ where the distance between heaven and earth narrows and the presence of God is more readily felt. [Rosalie] worked in a thin place.”
DeParle’s book is called A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century. In it, he follows Rosalie and her family for 30 years. Members of the family migrate around the world in search of work, then send money back to relatives in the Philippines.
That book title is surprising, isn’t it? Normally we think of good providers as people who stick around. But in a world of global migration, a good provider is one who leaves.
The very same is true of disciples. In Matthew, Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee and saw two fishermen, Simon and Andrew. “Come, follow me,” he said (Matthew 4:19). Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Then he called James and John, and “immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (verse 22). These first disciples left their jobs and families to follow Jesus. A good disciple is one who leaves.
So, what does it mean to be a good disciple today? We may not be challenged to quit fishing, but still we are supposed to leave. This means abandoning what we know and walking with Jesus in a new direction.
A good disciple is one who leaves the workplace in order to serve. This might mean tutoring an at-risk kid. Teaching English as a second language. Swinging a hammer for Habitat for Humanity. Serving others will give you a sense of satisfaction that you cannot find at work. Service brings us closer to Jesus, who said that he “didn’t come to be served but rather to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
A good disciple is also one who leaves the familiar and seeks connections with members of another race, religion, political party or ideology. Such a person understands that Jesus and his disciples moved into unfamiliar areas and did the work of helping, healing, and teaching. In the time of Jesus and today, a good disciple is one who leaves.
Push me, God, to leave the familiar and follow Jesus, as the first disciples did. Amen.