Monday, May 18, 2009

THE HUMBLING OF SIMON PETER

First in a 3-part reflection on the restoration of Simon Peter

WALKING WOUNDED. I wonder what percentage of the people you and I know are walking around with feelings of shame, unresolved guilt, deep regrets, major disappointments, or feelings of failure? 10%? 25%? 50%? More? Probably more than we think. Try to imagine the mindset and heart feelings of living continuously under such clouds.

EXTENDED DISAPPOINTMENT. Having come through some cycles of disappointment, I can tell you that it’s a heavy burden. At first, I used my old wrestling coach’s dictum: “Suck it up!” But frustration continued. Over time, disappointment became more frequent and extended in multiple directions. I was alternately disappointed with people, disappointed with institutions, and disappointed with myself. I confess that I have also felt disappointed with God.

EMERGING LEADER, QUICK DESCENT. During this time, I came to identify with Simon Peter like never before. Peter emerged as Jesus’ leading disciple and we admire his boldness, certainty, and outspokenness. But Peter experienced rapid descent into regret and confusion when he—to his own surprise—three times denied even knowing Jesus. He let Jesus down, let his fellow disciples down, and let himself down. His response, the Bible says, was to go out and weep bitterly.

WHEN HE'S DOWN. It is the Simon Peter we encounter after his denials that becomes so helpful to us and to all who grapple with disappointments, regrets, guilt, shame, or feelings of failure. At this point in his journey, Simon Peter is low. It's not his usual or ultimate condition. But what he experiences and learns in this humbled place is a key to becoming what Jesus declared he would be: petros, Rock. And it is what Jesus does for Peter to restore and redirect him that holds promise for us and for all who experience these realities.

More in my next post.

Graphic: Ethiopian, 17th Century

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