Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Bag of Chips

“One day, you’re going to wake up and realize you’re not all that and a bag of chips”.
I was listening to David Jeremiah on the radio this morning. He was talking about Simon Peter and how he was so sure he would never fail Jesus, but that’s exactly what he did.  He denied Christ three times in one evening.

Was he reading my mail, or what? I was most definitely not feeling like I was all that, and a bag of chips was nowhere in sight. Just last night I sat in the rocking chair on the back porch reflecting on how I had acted that day. I had taken all my frustrations out on my family just an hour before. I didn't like the person I was at that moment. I realized I had perfectionistic tendencies and set my standards too high for them to ever reach. No matter what my little family did, I would find a weakness and focus on that. I cried a few embarrassing tears, then got up, apologized to everyone, made sure everyone was happy, and went straight to bed, humbled. 

But back to Peter.  

He denied Christ 3 times! Not one time, not "I slipped up" and did it again. No, THREE times. I can see how that happened to him. After all, he spent every day with Jesus. He was in his company, they had private conversations and he shared in the miracles Jesus performed. He loved Jesus. Jesus was his friend, his messiah, and his teacher. Life was good!  
Jesus chilling with his disciples.
Betrayed by one of his own, and arrested.
Then one evening Jesus was arrested and all the disciples fled. They were scared, confused, and feared for their lives.  Peter followed Jesus at a distance, watching to see what they were doing with Jesus. Why was his friend arrested? As he followed, people recognized Peter and pointed him out, “He’s one of the disciples!” and Peter said, “No, I don’t know him”. Twice. The third time a person questioned Peter, he opened his mouth “I don’t know what you’re talking-“ He was cut off, because while he was in the middle of speaking, he heard a rooster crow. Jesus turned and looked at Peter. It was then that Peter remembered what Jesus said to him.

Peter denies knowing Jesus

We all know the story, but look here: 
Luke 22:61
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Three times, Peter. See my fingers?
Peter wasn’t just upset to realize what he did; he wept bitterly. He was ashamed of himself, of his failure, of how weak he was. He was heartbroken. Peter, who told Jesus he would never turn against him and would die for him, had instead denied him three times. 
Peter realizes his weakness and fear.
We do things like that. We build ourselves up and are so certain of our imaginary super powers. We’re just so awesome, right?! But then the day comes when something happens between you one of your friends, a family member, maybe even a stranger, and you end up falling back on your rear-end, wondering what just happened.

I've been there a few times, I know. Not once, not twice..probably more than three times, actually. 
You’re left feeling rejected, isolated, friendless, worthless, a failure.  You’ll sit there by your little lonesome and look at yourself in the mirror. Not a cloudy, filtered mirror that only shows the surface beauty, oh no..  your actual TRUE self.  You might want to look away. You might not want to admit what you see: bitterness, anger, false pretenses, insecurity, jealousy… .  more failures.

But it’s ok. It is really and truly ok to see the ugliness. It’s a good thing to realize your humanity or even be knocked down a few pegs. It is a GOOD THING to recognize your own imperfections, to give them a good solid look.  Take it all in. Admit your weaknesses.

The scripture here says:

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Therefore, be thankful you are able to recognize your own human nature and less desirable characteristics rather than become prideful. Be glad you have the opportunity to look in the mirror and see all the dirt and sin on your own face. If Peter physically walked in Jesus’ company and failed, how much more are we able to fail!

But don’t stay there: Get up. Keep moving. You might not want to smile for a little while, but it gets better.  Take that picture in your mind and make conscious choices to be better. Move forward, soldier, the battle isn’t over yet. We’re all going to get knocked down, hurt and pushed back in line, but it isn’t over!

One final thought: if you’re feeling vulnerable and friendless, this is also an opportunity to remember to lean on Jesus, not other people. Trust in Jesus for fulfillment, not people. Look to Him.

Illustration credits:
Sue Bentley/