The Dust of Your Rabbi: A Pig-Pen Discipleship

[F]irst-century Jews had a blessing that beautifully expresses the commitment of a disciple to stay in the presence of the one he followed: "May you always be covered by the dust of your rabbi." That is, "May you follow him so closely that the dust his feet kicks up is what cakes your clothing and lines your face."
-- John Ortberg, God is Closer Than You Think

I love that saying, and I love the image it provokes. Staying so close to the one you're following that at the end of the day, you're covered in the dust he's kicked up.
It reminds me of the Peanuts character, Pig-Pen. Remember him? The cute little guy who walked around in a constantly churning cloud of dust? Applying that image to the ancient Jewish blessing, I would hope my life of discipleship to Jesus makes me a spiritual Pig-Pen, awash and a'mess in the orbit of the Lord's dusty trail.

But I know I'm not. In those terms, I'm relatively clean. Sometimes I'm following Jesus from a respectable distance. I can see the dust he's kicking up on the horizon, keeping it in eyesight but following it cautiously, maybe like the Israelites followed the cloud of YHWH in the desert.
Other times, I'm so far behind, I can't see it at all. I might as well be lost. I come to a fork in the road, and I can't follow Jesus because I don't know which direction he went. My mind plays tricks on me; I can see wisps of smoke in the distance, clouds of dusts sent up faintly over the landscape's splintered line by other travellers, others who are not the Rabbi but might be mistaken for him since I'm so far away.
Getting far away and make one desperate to follow anything that looks like it might be the right thing.

My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
-- Job 23.11

I wish.

But it stands to reason that if I'm right up next to Jesus' back, I'll get a glimpse of God's backside glory. If I'm sticking close, I can match his pace, see what he's looking at, smell the sweat on his arms -- like a nosy son up under his busy dad's feet, precocious and curious and imitative.

". . . Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?" declares the LORD.
-- Jeremiah 30.21c

I want to be so close as to get dirty in the stir Jesus is making. I want to be filthy with his presence.