“You have to get in the pit with people; otherwise, they’ll just stay there,” she was saying. I smiled. That perfectly describes what she did for me and for other young women. Danice was talking about challenging, messy, beautiful, dynamic discipleship, and I was grateful that she never shrank from arduous cases. We only met because someone else had found me too difficult (see previous post for my story), and she wanted to get me off her hands; it was so God’s leading that I wasn’t even hurt or offended. Over a breakfast meeting, Danice decided to take me on.

When Elijah was in his own pit (see previous post for more of Elijah’s story), God meets him there. In 1 Kings 19, God shows up in a still small voice and hears Elijah’s lament. God doesn’t diminish Elijah’s experience, but God also doesn’t stay with Elijah in that pit. Instead, God reminds Elijah that God has more for him; because God sees beyond Elijah’s circumstances, God encourages him that he isn’t the last person in Israel to follow God, that 7,000 others still worship the one, true God. Sometimes we just need someone to lift up our heads and invite us to see beyond the moment. God reaches down in the pit and draws Elijah out and sets him on a new path that will lead him to disciple Elisha, the next generation prophet. Elijah steps out of his pit.

As 1 Kings 19 continues, we see that Elisha is going about his duties as a son and a farmer when Elijah enters the scene. He seeks out Elisha and invites him to join the prophetic adventure. Elisha agrees and celebrates with a huge party that included a BBQ menu supplied by his 12 oxen and cooked over his plowing equipment. Clearly, Elisha was all in, and “he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant” (1 Kings 19:21). After studying under Elijah, Elisha would eventually witness Elijah taken to heaven in whirlwind of fire, chariots, and horses (2 Kings 2). What Elijah left behind was a trained prophet who would continue to love and serve God and teach the next generation to do the same.

Today discipleship doesn’t have to be quite as dramatic. There was no BBQ after my breakfast meeting with Danice; I didn’t move in with her family of six children. What did happen was that Danice invited me into her life. She didn’t sugar coat things—her story or what it means to work or volunteer in ministry. She was real and raw and rare. In the process, she listened to my story and pointed me to healing in Jesus. As I processed my deep wound, it became safe to dream again of what God had for me. The lies the youth pastor said over me were replaced by truth—I was called by God to love and serve young people. Eventually, dreams turned into movement as I sought ministry training at Fuller Theological Seminary and would eventually become a youth pastor.

What Danice has done for me, I have tried to do for others. It isn’t enough if it stops with me; the kingdom doesn’t work like that. Discipleship multiples. As a result, healing, generosity, love multiples with it. I’ve had successes and failures, but I’ve never regretted reaching out and loving students and women well and listening to their stories. When discipleship is about walking with people and pointing them to Jesus, it isn’t a task to do or a skill to master; it’s a privilege.

Movement Step: Pray and ask God to show you someone you can disciple. Don’t overlook the prickly ones; chances are there’s a reason she’s prickly, and God may be asking you to get in her pit. With wisdom and discernment, initiate a conversation, take her to coffee, invite her to help you with errands. Listen to her story and share yours.

Danice and I in 2010 at my going away party before attending Fuller Theological Seminary.
Danice and I in 2010 at my going away party before attending Fuller Theological Seminary.