Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peter and grace...

I am Peter. Jesus built His church on Peter (his name means "rock", go figure!) but he was probably the worst disciple. Ever. He screwed up big time and yet because our God is a god of miracles and grace,(and 2nd, 9th and 21st chances) God chose someone who needs a ton of grace and lots of patience to be the stronghold for the church. I am definitely Peter.

Jesus told His friends that it was God's plan for Him to be arrested - when things were going how God put them together that night in the garden, who freaks out and cuts off someone's ear? Yup, Peter. I can hear Jesus chuckling as He picks up the bloody ear and puts it back on the soldier's face, "Peter, do you think for a MINUTE that I'm not going to do what the Father asks of Me? That I won't drink the cup the Father has given Me..?" I wonder what went through Peter's mind as he saw the Lord literally healing the wounds he had caused by his rash behavior and lack of trust...

Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him 3 times; Peter says "No, no! Jesus, I love you, I would NEVER not claim you! I would never forget, never give up, never walk away, never get frustrated!". But we know how the story plays out, Peter DOES reject and deny his relationship with Jesus 3 times before the sunrises. This after just watching Jesus heal the ear problem hours before, Peter resorts to pride and proclaims "I WOULD NEVER!", only to be insecure and untruthful by doing EXACTLY as the Jesus said he would. And in that moment that the crow echoes through the allies as he is huddled around a fire trying to get warm in the dusky morning glow, how his heart must have plummeted... Those sinking feelings of failure, fear, and loss. Yet our God is one of grace and had it in abundance in that moment and in the ones after..

After Jesus has risen, He went to see His friends while they were fishing on the water. What does Peter do...? Oh yeah, in his rush to get to Jesus he jumps/dives/belly flops off the boat and into the water and swims/doggy paddles to the shore; while the boat simply turns around and heads towards Jesus on the shoreline (makes sense right?), gotta think the boat got there first... So good 'ol Peter, soaking wet and muddy, tiredly crawls up the bank of the water to plop down at Jesus feet. I can see His smile as He looks down at Peter - full of love, patience and grace - and then He opens His arms and welcomes Peter home...

I am Peter. I think I got it all figured out and so jump out of the boat, in a rush to get to the 'destination' and end up at the Lord's feet soaking wet, having taken the longer, and of course more exhausting way; then we just chuckle as He picks me up or both cry as He reaches down to hold my hand and pull me close against His heart. I love the Lord; I want to step out in faith; I want to be courageous instead of living in fear; I want to chose to love and be intentional like Jesus but I wonder how many times I deny Him through my actions, my "me" oriented thoughts or attitude...? Yes, I am Peter. I have my own time-line, my own ways of jumping in to "save the day" instead of trusting Jesus to show up and work miracles.

And yet, I am left speechless at the grace, the peace, the patience and this God who wants my heart so desperately. When I jump instead of sitting at the Lords feet praying and asking Him or when I get afraid or insecure, these are the moments that God's grace and His love are so clear. The peace that comes in the place of the expected disappointment is remarkable. I am shaken not by fear of failure, disappointment or unworthiness but by this love that defies all understanding, that covers my heart, that delights in vulnerability and trust, that seeks peace and grace instead of anger, guilt and hurt...

I am beginning to understand what Paul is talking about in 2 Corthinians 12,

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was give the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was to push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me 'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength come into its own in your weakness.' Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen! I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift! It was a case of Christ's strength moving in my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." ( vs. 7-10)

I can delight in the grace because I am so loved. That astounding grace covers me - all my limitations, my insecurities, my doubts, my mistakes. And because I am not perfect, God's love and grace are somehow made more evident in me. Praise JESUS that I don't have to be perfect, that I don't have to be afraid of making the wrong decisions.

THANK YOU JESUS that I am called to love deeply and live alongside people, not save them; that I am called to walk in truth and joy and then to challenge the people around me to do the same... What an honor for this broken, sometimes selfish heart to talk about how the Lord has redeemed me and how He continues day in and day out to do so, to talk about how great and true His love is. Through my quirks, my past and everything else un-perfect about me, the Lord can be revealed in power and glory. Amen :)

Jesus sits with Peter and asks him if he loves Him 3 times. And after each time Peter says "Yes, you know I do!". Then Jesus gives him instructions : "Feed My lambs", "Shepard My sheep", and "Follow Me". After everything that he's done, Peter is asked by God to live alongside people and love deeply, called to live a redeemed life. I am Peter. I am called to walk in redemption and bring other people with me. To live in love and bring hope, joy and truth. To invite people to "come and see" that the Lord is good and holy and oh, so full of grace!

So here I go. :)

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