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This Banner is heavy on discipleship issues—how we can become more mature followers of Jesus and help others do the same. We’re even introducing a new column on discipleship. If the topic doesn’t exactly get your adrenaline pumping, you may be tempted to fast-forward to “Cabbages and Kings” and get back to viewing the ball game.

But, please, not so fast. Walking with Jesus is a cradle-to-grave journey for each of us. It’s important to think about, especially as we gear up for another church and school season. Jesus’ life-transforming invitation to follow him, learn from him, live for him, and represent him embraces our church, school, home, and personal life. Ask yourself, What bend on the Discipleship Road do I need to head for this season? How will I get there? What’s my next step? How will I help others take their next step? Pray, think, and talk about it. Figure it out before you plunge ahead.

Life Savers

Discipleship is like swimming. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 15. When my parents bought a lakefront cottage north of Toronto, they insisted I take lessons. Good thing! We had a sailboat called a sabot, which is French for “wooden shoe”—which was accurate because the boat wasn’t that much bigger. My dad warned me always to tack (turn the boat) into the wind and never with it. Yada, yada, yada, thought I—he’s just posturing as the mighty sailor man I knew he wasn’t. (He took it out only once, couldn’t get back from the far side of the lake, and my brother and I had to fetch him with the powerboat.)

But I should have listened. Out in the middle of the lake I found out why. The boom came around so fast it cracked me on the back of the head and dumped me overboard. The boat sailed on without me, and if I hadn’t learned to swim we wouldn’t be conversing now.

Swimming and discipleship aren’t that different:
• They’re fun, hard work, and lifesaving.
• They take know-how. I had to learn that human beings may be dense, but they’re not quite as dense as H20—stretching out in the water won’t even allow you to sink.
• Like discipleship, swimming requires a plunge of faith, trusting that what one knows actually works.
• Like discipleship, swimming takes practice. I had to learn how to float and then how to get somewhere. I had to train my body to do what it takes to make it back to shore.
• Like discipleship, swimming sometimes comes naturally—like when you suddenly get tossed into the chuck. But usually it’s something you need to make a point of doing or it just doesn’t happen.

A few weeks back Margo and I revisited Ontario’s summer playground. After years of leaving the water to the fishes, I stepped back into the sparkling blue waters of Georgian Bay and waded in over my head. I’m still here—proof I can still swim. But within minutes my arm muscles were killing me. Years of neglect meant that I could stay afloat for a bit, but I couldn’t get very far.

Following Jesus isn’t that different.

Now, if you please, read your Banner.

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