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Steering a roller-coaster E-mail
Opinion
Thursday, 08 February 2018 08:41

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MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron



Since the first of the year I’ve used the outline of One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook. One problem people face as they approach the end of life is handling regrets, but there’s hope for addressing any past failure in anyone’s life. 

Last week we saw Peter’s faith first acclaimed as the foundation of the church. But he’s the same guy who soon failed miserably. A painting depicts Peter outside by a fire while Jesus was being scourged and interrogated. Peter swore and denied that he knew his friend. The rooster crowed, Peter realized his guilt, and turned to flee, but the face of Christ was still visible from inside the judgment hall. Jesus never stopped loving Peter, even then, but the regrets in Peter’s heart kept him at a distance. 

Peter and his friends went back to the way of life they knew best. After fishing all night, they heard Someone calling to them from shore. John in chapter 21 notes that Jesus had made a fire, laid fish on the coals and had bread for the men to eat. Not exactly what one would expect after the miracle of resurrection – Jesus Christ, alone on a beach, cooking breakfast. 

So, how do we depict the posture of God? Seated on a throne, casting down judgment? Flipping through a book, checking good or bad? Impatiently standing, tapping a toe or shaking a finger? The last night they’d been with him, Jesus had been kneeling beside a basin, washing their feet. Then here he was this morning, calling an invitation from shore. He also knelt by a fire and had food ready to serve as soon as they arrived. 

The greatest trap of the devil is to convince us we’ve done something unforgivable. But Jesus told Nicodemus, “‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). 

The next step in handling regrets is to surrender to God’s plan. After their meal, Peter and Jesus had a talk, maybe even took a walk. “‘When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go’” (John 21:18-19). I’ve always hated what that verse might indicate, thinking of myself in a care home somewhere.  

One time we went to an amusement park with our oldest son who was by then an adult, and he wanted us to try a new ride. I got on with him, but immediately had second thoughts. A steering wheel would have been welcome, to keep us from hurtling upside-down through those towering loops. Like a roller coaster with no steering wheel, much of life – health, financial loss, weather, death of those we love - comes rushing at us. The only thing we can control is our reactions and attitudes. 

The next question Peter asked was about John, who apparently was following behind. “‘Lord, what about him?’” and Jesus replied, “‘You must follow me’” (John 21:21-22). The same words that three years earlier had beckoned Peter to become a disciple now called him to accept, not just salvation, but whatever life would bring. 

By this point, Peter had fully realized his weakness and inadequacy to follow Jesus’ call. But that’s exactly the kind of person Jesus wants. Paul wrote, “‘…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Earlier, he wrote, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). 

Perhaps we need to repent of the direction we’ve been going and accept the path Jesus has for us. The point is, get on board, surrender control, and let God lay out the plan. 

 

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