Living a Disciplined Life #1
The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus. Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best. It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel. We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.
E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.” St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”
If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves. This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful. No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation. It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control. It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word. The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.” It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.
Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China. “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer. For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.
“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance. He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table. Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings. In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message. All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]