Apr 24, 2009

foolish growth

We all know what it means to fail, don't we? There's that thing we do that we know we shouldn't do, but we do it anyway. Intentional rebellion is a serious thing.

But is that the end of the story?

I found this intriguing slice from an article by Gordon McDonald. He offers some great perspective on how sometimes in our failures our Lord transforms us into what we apparently could not have become otherwise. Check it out:

[I] highlight the exchange between Jesus and Simon Peter in which the Lord says, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Most of us know that this conversation is a preface to Simon Peter's humiliating performance in the backyard of the Temple's high priest. Simon denies three times that he had ever known Jesus, much less been among his disciples. That was followed by the rooster's crowing and a look into the eyes of Jesus. The two together—the crowing and the eyes—must have been more than he could bear. He rushed into a back alley and "wept bitterly."

More than once I have asked myself this question: if Jesus knew so clearly what was coming, why he didn't offer Simon counsel on how to avoid the upcoming bad moments? I would have. But then I often try to fix people before or after they make a jerk of themselves.

One chuckles at Peter's brazenness in the upper room when he says, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Ready indeed!

Well, at least Peter was warned. But it appears to me that the Savior was far less concerned about his disciple's upcoming collapse of character and far more concerned about what he'd learn and how he would act afterwards when he might get his act back together.

What occurs to me is that Jesus must have planned to use an experience of failure to teach Peter a lesson that he apparently could not learn any other way.

There's a thought here. If the Lord desires that a person grow, it looks like he doesn't mind allowing that person to make a perfect fool of himself or herself if the process leads to better things. Christ-followers who judge themselves or others by only a standard of perfection might want to consider this.

As someone who has made a fool of himself on more than one occasion, I want to encourage you to embrace the refreshing promise that failure doesn't end with a period when Jesus is a part of the sentence...

(Yeah, I sort of left that thought hanging there on purpose. If you need something a bit more conclusive about foolish growth to hang your hat on, I'd suggest this)


Ed G. said...

interesting... i actually spent time with these verses earlier this week and these words provide new depth. thanks.

what i came away in my earlier read was the fact that jesus prayed for peter's faith. i think perhaps you can get to the point where you convince yourself that you believe - that your faith is strong enough -- and while you ask God for a lot of things, asking God to strengthen our faith falls to the bottom of the list. i realized i need to pray for my faith a lot more. thanks for sharing this.

Tony Myles said...

Likewise, Ed. I appreciate your comments and insights as well. How amazing it is to be prayed for by Jesus!