Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


That your faith may not fail

Luke 22 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. I read the story of Peter's denial (verses 31 - 34, and 54 - 62) to my Howdy Group last week, and read it again in leading my fellow Ambassadors in the devotional for our weekly meeting today. It's one of those stories that hits me hard with reality...not just truth, but reality.

There were several things that I pointed out to both the Howdy Group and the Ambassadors. Jesus told Peter that Satan demanded permission (in my NAS bible, it has in the footnotes, "obtained by asking") to "sift you like wheat." I don't know about you, but if Jesus told me that in person, I'd be peeing in my pants. Jesus follows that revelation up with what I suppose is something that could be considered "comforting." He tells Peter that He's prayed for him, that his "faith may not fail." In the context of the story, one would think that Peter's faith did fail; after all, didn't he deny Jesus three times? But I don't think it did. Why? Peter failed...his faith didn't. There's a difference between the two that we often forget...I'll expand on this later. In verse 33, after being warned about the sifting, what does Peter do? Clothe himself with humility, as he later would write about (1 Peter 5:5)? Hardly. Peter pulls his foot up toward his mouth (which Jesus had earlier washed like the Servant He is, partially because none of His disciples would) and boldly sticks it in, saying, "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!" *Sigh* often have I bragged upon my own readiness, my own perceived prowess? In verse 34 come some of the most horrific words in all of Scripture that any biblical character would ever hear. It's there that Jesus tells Peter of the impending denial, the impending doom.

In verses 61 and 62, we see the doom fall upon Peter. He denies Jesus, and Luke's gospel tells us that Jesus turns and looks at Peter. I can't imagine looking into the eyes of Christ and feeling that guilt wash over me. Most of the time, I can't even bear the weight of confessing my sin to a fellow human, let alone my Creator, Savior, Eternal High Priest, Redeemer, the Lover of my Soul. How did Peter feel at that moment? Although the text doesn't really say it outright, I don't think that Jesus' eyes conveyed condemnation, especially after the interaction they shared the night before. Still, Peter "went out and wept bitterly." Oh, such bitter tears to shed!

I wonder if, even now, I have tears to shed that I've frozen in the cold confines of my heart. Today's been one of those days for me. God's there, but I'm busy doing His business, so He understands. Or does He? Psalm 73:28 says, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works." Am I near to God? The word "near" implies intimacy, closeness in relationship. Verse 17 speaks of going into the Lord's I in His sanctuary, or am I simply relying upon the doctrine of God's omnipresence to fulfill my being "near" to Him? Is He my refuge? Am I telling of His works? *Sigh*, no, no, no, and no. Like Peter, I am prone to failure. The difficulty in my failure today is recognizing it. Pride comes in many forms, and just because I didn't openly deny Jesus doesn't mean that I am drawing near to Him, making Him my refuge, and telling of all His works.

One last tendril of thought to think upon, then I'm off to draw near to the Lord :) Before reading that passage in Luke to the Howdy Group, I had asked them a question: "what are you going to do here at Boyce?" After asking the question, I read to them Deuteronomy 8 (go read it for yourself...hehe), and then the passage in Luke. I told them that we can always plan what we think we're going to do, we can say to ourselves that we won't fail, and we can really begin to enjoy being in an environment like Boyce College. Yet, what happens when we fail? What happens when we're sitting in our rooms weeping bitterly? What happens when we feel so much shame, we tell no one of our failure? What happens when the guy down the hall is struggling, but no one seems to care? The reality of our faith is that it's filled with failure. The truth of God's word tells us that, but the shallowness of our hearts often sets us up to feel afresh the reality of our failure in ways we simply aren't prepared for. That's what happened to Peter, and that's what often happens to us. We fail, but we must get up. Why? Because Jesus has prayed for us, that our faith may not fail. In other words, our Creator, Savior, Eternal High Priest, Redeemer, the Lover of our Souls will look us in the eye with love and tell us that though we've failed, He went to the cross and died so that we wouldn't have to. That is the essence of faith; it is a gift from the Father given through the Son, a gracious one, and one that overcomes our failure.

What will I do while I'm at Boyce? I don't know; but if I fail, I'll trust that my faith will not. Jesus is praying for me, after all :)

posted by Bolo | 5:10 PM
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