Have you ever felt like your life was just a bit out of tune or sync? Or that you are invisible and/or marginalized to those around you and in your own self-image. Have you bought into the lie that your life doesn’t matter to others or in the grand scheme of history? Have you just acquiesced to the seeming insurmountable or overwhelming circumstances you find yourself in? If really truthful to yourself would you admit to being passive instead of passionate about your life? But; wait a minute!
There is a longing in the human experience to know (with absolute certainty) that we matter and belong! There is also a God given hunger within the heart of every human in history to know and somehow discover and to live out the dignity of our divine design. Purpose, meaning, dreams, vision, and hope-filled relationships are all tied to knowing and embracing this design. Thankfully, these truths aren’t age specific. We are neither too young nor old to fully realize all that we are in Jesus!
A dear sister shared her experience thus way: I lived my whole life mirroring what other people thought about me. I let them decide or tell me who and what I was. I didn't have my own identity. Now I know that I am to look into God's mirror (Jesus) and believe in what and who He says I am. I am His beloved, no more will I look to people to show me who I am.
Following is King David’s description of the grandeur of God’s greatest creation and joy-you and me. “13 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. 14 I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! 15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. 17 Your thoughts - how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! 18 I couldn't even begin to count them - any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!” (Psalm 139-18, Msg)
Wow! What a majestic description of the true us! What marvelous and tender care we can walk in if we embrace God’s love at this level. His high opinion of us will never be based upon our performance; good or bad. Why do we have such a difficult time believing our design and destiny are fixed in His heart? Why do we so quickly get back on the roller coaster of doubt and despair? It’s like we truly experience the secure place we have in Jesus and then turn right around and forget who and whose we are! Your authentic origin and design is mirrored in the Word; in what Jesus has to say about you!
Let’s peer into Saint Peter’s journey to his awakening to Divine design and destiny-his was also a roller coaster ride. The beginning was in his call to follow Jesus-the same is true of each of us.
“18 Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. 19 Jesus said to them "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." 20 They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” (Matthew 4: 18-20, Msg)
The next experience revealed how much we are alike-Peter and us! How difficult it is to embrace our High calling in Jesus. 15 He pressed them, "And how about you? Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter said, "You're the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. 18 And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. 19 "And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven." (Matt. 16: 15-19, Msg)
“Simon son of Jonah, I say you are Rock...and within the context of this revelation will I establish My original identity; and the stronghold of ignorance will not prevail against the onslaught of My church.” (Math.16:13-18, Mirror Bible)
By revelation Simon discovers that Jesus was so much more than the son of Joseph and Mary, He was indeed the Messiah, the son of God; “now that you know who I am, let me introduce you to yourself, Simon, son of Jonah, you did not begin in Jonah, look to the Rock from which you were hewn, the quarry from which you were cut; you have forgotten the Rock that begot you, the Father who gave birth to you... I want to tell you who you really are, you are Rock (petros), and upon this Rock revelation of mankind’s original identity will I build My ekklesia church and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.
But what about Peter’s betrayal of Jesus on the night of His arrest? 33 Peter broke in, "Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won't." 34 "Don't be so sure," Jesus said. "This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times." 35 Peter protested, "Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you." All the others said the same thing. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. 38 Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me." 39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" 40 When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, "Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? 67 Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: 68 "Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?" Denial in the Courtyard 69 All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 In front of everybody there, he denied it. "I don't know what you're talking about." 71 As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene." 72 Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: "I swear, I never laid eyes on the man." 73 Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. "You've got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away." 74 Then he got really nervous and swore. "I don't know the man!" 75 Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.
Our stories also contain false humility, multitudinous failures, doubt and even betrayal of Jesus. In many and varied ways we have hidden the One who lives in our heart. Is that not betrayal? Have our actions not said; “I never knew the man”? In the darkness of shame and regret enters the light of Grace! Here is the rest of the story of Peter from John’s Gospel. This part of his story mirrors ours as well!
11 Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore - 153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn't rip. 12 Jesus said, "Breakfast is ready." Not one of the disciples dared ask, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Master. 13 Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead. 15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Master, you know I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 16 He then asked a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Master, you know I love you." Jesus said, "Shepherd my sheep." 17 Then he said it a third time: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, "Do you love me?" so he answered, "Master, you know everything there is to know. You've got to know that I love you." 18 I'm telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you'll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don't want to go." 19 He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, "Follow me."
Jesus did not even bring up the betrayal! It’s as if it never happened. Obviously Jesus’ blood had cleansed and forgiven Peter. Peter experienced the very same Grace that is always more than sufficient for you and me. And then Jesus went right to Peter’s designed destiny: ‘because I know you love me, do what comes naturally supernatural; feed and shepherd my sheep and follow me.’ The restored Peter helped to shape the entire history of the Body of Christ (the church).