Discipleship and the Navy SEAL

June 2, 2010

Discipleship is first a relationship, and is best modeled by Jesus Himself. He called 12 men to “be with Him,” and then equipped them to go and preach. The purpose of discipleship is to help another brother or sister become more like Jesus, to grow in his or her relationship with Jesus. Ray Vander Laan, in his DVD series “In the Dust of the Rabbi,” explains that in ancient times, those who were discipled by a certain rabbi would be covered by that teacher’s dust that was stirred up as he walked. That’s what discipleship is, learning to walk so closely with Jesus that the dust of His feet is all over you.
In his book, “Lone Survivor,” which I recommend only with a disclaimer that you will be assaulted with profanity, Marcus Luttrell tells the true story of his Navy SEAL team that went into Afghanistan in 2005 for a mission which only he survived. As a 17-year-old, Luttrell approached a former Special Forces man in his hometown and asked him to train him to be a SEAL. He basically said, “I want to learn to be like you; I want your dust to be on me.” His mentor taught him rigorous physical discipline along with other valuable lessons like this one, which we can apply to following Christ: “When your commander makes even a slight reference to an issue that may be helpful, listen, and then do it. Even it was an aside, not a proper command, maybe even starting with I think it might be a good idea. Always pay attention and then carry out the task, no matter how minor it may seem.” Following Christ means listening to Him and obeying what we hear.
Second, a disciple, like a SEAL, must have mental toughness. One night when all the SEAL trainees were on a run, an instructor climbed through a window and trashed a guy’s room, threw everything everywhere, and emptied detergent over his bed gear. He climbed back out the window, waited for the team to return, then tapped on the guy’s door and demanded a room inspection. The guy couldn’t decide whether to be furious or heartbroken, but spent the night cleaning his room and still had to be in the showers at 4:30 a.m. with the rest of the team. Marcus asked his instructor about it weeks later and the instructor said, “Marcus, the body can take nearly anything. The question that guy was being asked involved mental strength. Can you handle such injustice? Can you cope with that much unfairness? And still come back with your jaw set, still determined, still saying you will never quit? That’s what we’re looking for.” Isn’t that the same with those who will follow Christ? Men aren’t washing out of Christianity because they can’t handle the physical demands, but because they don’t have mental toughness developed through unquenchable faith in the Lord, that He is sovereign, and we can trust Him.
Finally, a successful disciple and SEAL will follow this basic instruction: Complete each task as it comes, living for the day. Luttrell writes of those who quit, “They had allowed themselves to live in dread of the pain and the anguish to come, (instead of just taking) it hour by hour.” Jesus said this to His disciples: “Do not worry about tomorrow … sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Most of us will never be a Navy SEAL. However, all of us who treasure Christ can be His disciple, and make disciples of others. Are you wearing the dust of the Lord Jesus?