By Nicole Shepherd
Through the life of Jesus we see the breathing, bodily image of His Father's heart. When the Word became flesh, man was given a stethoscope to know what moves, rejoices and grieves the spirit of God. So if we want to discover the crown of the Father's affections, we must become students of the Son. What did He do? What rhythm pattern did He leave us to hear, feel and walk in step to Jehovah's heartbeat?
Of the many things Jesus did, none are more vivid than His love for people – especially His disciples. For three years He knit these men to Him through the ties of daily life until He knew them not only as Creator, but as Friend. He ate, walked and spent nights listening to Galilee's waves drum the shore rocks with them. Whether He was laughing with them or patiently forbearing their peevish moments He loved them enough to be inconvenienced by them every day.
Why did Jesus do this? Why would God Almighty put up with rough fishermen and zealous tempers until they were so familiar with His holy Presence to lean against His chest like brothers? Because He was molding men. Jesus was shaping the Son of Thunder into a tender teacher whose fatherly pleas to his “little children” would be imprinted on Scripture's pages forever. He was converting the tax collector's deceitful fingers into the hand that would pen the first Gospel. As God seeing into the future, Jesus knew His men needed a teacher they could see, hear and handle, if they were to teach others. And His model is not just for them – it's for us! Just as Jesus discipled through involving the disciples in everything He did, so we are to disciple others in everything we do. And, like Jesus, we must start with those closest to us. It takes more Christ-like sacrifice and humility to stop during a hectic day to read a story to our five year old sister than to feed the 5,000 at the soup kitchen. Yes, those in the outer circle must be ministered to as well, but Jesus put priority on ministering to those close before the crowds. In fact, the crowds became the training ground where Jesus coached His followers. So it must be for us. Our influence is most powerful on the impressionable sister who is learning from us for better or worse. Each interrupted moment, each hour spent together and each opportunity we seize to disciple her will be recorded on the pages of her soul forever. Let's not miss it! Our field of ministry must start with hearts burning to recruit our siblings, nieces, nephews and younger Christian sisters as laborers-in-training for God. Take their hand and together walk in time to the rhythm of our Father's heart.
There is no more beautiful way to live than as a disciple of Jesus on a small homestead nestled in the gorgeous Missouri Ozarks and Nicole Shepherd is very grateful to call such a life hers! A daughter, oldest sister to six and homeschool graduate, Nicole enjoys studying God's Word, writing, British and American history, being an entrepreneur and long Sunday afternoon car rides with her family.