There are qualities in each of Jesus’ disciples that I can identify with, and not necessarily their best qualities. I can be slow to “get it” like Philip, one who needs proof like Thomas, but most of all I think I have the impetuousness of Peter.
I am again reminded of this as I read the January 5th devotion in My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
Early in Christ’s public life, I suspect that Peter was following Him at least partially out of infatuation. He felt strongly and passionately within his own heart that there was nothing he wouldn’t do for Jesus. His faith in Jesus was intertwined with his emotions. In fact, he probably didn’t realize the extent to which he was driven by the strength of his emotions. I suspect he may have enjoyed it, and knew in his heart his feelings were proof of his devotion to Jesus. But he was soon to be blindsided and devastated by his own denial of Jesus.
This resonates with me because it is only when we are tested that we are sobered to learn about ourselves what Peter also discovered about himself.
Early in my Christian life, and probably even now, I lack spiritual self-awareness. I am like a piñata, dressed up for a party and full of hot air and cheap candy.
But life brings on these wonderful challenges that expose the content of the piñata. Tests come at you like small children wielding sticks designed to purge you of your useless cargo.
The best result? We see clearly where we end and Christ in us begins – a tipping point we would never know without testing. Turns out, we brought nothing to the table, and all we thought of ourselves was both wrong and worthless.
As Oswald Chambers points out, “All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them.” Without real tests – those that exceed our ability to pass – we would remain puffy, syrupy, goofy looking toys, unable to weather a child’s beating.
Mr. Chambers further points out, when Peter was tested, “He came completely to the end of himself and all of his self sufficiency. There was no part of himself he would ever rely on again… when we come to the end of ourselves, not just mentally but completely, we are able to receive the Holy Spirit.”
We may not even know we don’t have the Holy Spirit, or know how desperately we need Him, until life lets the air out of us so we can be filled with Him.
Stay tuned for part two…