Do you ever think you have THE answer about some aspect of life? A bright idea that will solve whatever issue is at hand? Where the metaphorical light bulb goes off and your mind’s eye sees everything falling into place?
I haven’t had a lot of light bulbs going off lately, and that’s left me feeling a little in the dark. Too bad there is no switch to flip and easily see with clarity.
But my ideas aren’t always THE answer, anyway, as I learn time and again.
Sometimes I need to be interrupted by God.
If you’ve ever “met” Jesus’ ODs (as in “original disciples”), you probably know they are a bit of a ragtag bunch. From what the Bible shares, we know that their personality traits aren’t perfect—far from it. Thank God…literally.
If they were even close to perfect, we wouldn’t be able to relate or connect. At least I wouldn’t. Sometimes stubborn, dense, proud, jealous, doubtful, hot-tempered…the knuckleheaded disciples show me that I can fit right in with them.
Peter is one of my favorites on this front. So many stories show him to be almost like an eager child…well meaning, but a whole lot of acting first and thinking later.
He’s gung-ho and passionate…and more than once needing to be corrected by Jesus. From getting too excited about Jesus washing his feet, to walking on water then sinking in fear, to being the origin of the phrase “Get behind me, Satan!” and even denying Jesus…Peter more or less offers me a seat at the table.
I get a kick out of the description of the transfiguration because it shows that Peter, too, needs to be interrupted by God.
As the story goes, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a mountain where he is “transfigured” right before them. It sounds pretty cool—Jesus kind of lights up and Moses and Elijah make cameo appearances. Excitable Peter deems that “it’s good for us to be here” and suggests that he can put up some shelters for the three…because, you know, they’d probably like to hang out for a while.
Here comes the part that amuses me…it says that “while he was still speaking,” God spoke from behind a bright cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matt. 17:5, NIV
If I wrote a version of the Bible, it would probably sound more like, Ahem, Peter? There was something really important I’ve been meaning to tell you, and I just remembered what it was: Shut it. You are not getting it. Listen to Jesus, you knucklehead.
This is why there are versions of the Bible that include NIV, MSG, and ESV..but no LAR.
Even so, my “translation” resonates with me, at least. Peter’s got an idea, and God cuts him off and tells him to simply listen to Jesus. Boom. Message received.
Of course, the cloud burst terrifies the disciples, and they fall to the ground, and what does Jesus do? He gently and lovingly reminds them not to be afraid.
From God’s interruption to Jesus’ reassurance, I am reminded that I should be quiet and listen.
It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t seek ideas or purpose, but that I need to be open to receive what might be beyond my own vision.
Sometimes you just need to shut up and listen.
After all the stories of Peter’s knuckleheadedness (yes, I’m calling that a word), Jesus calls Peter his rock and gives him the keys to the kingdom…and he goes on to do some powerful work. (It’s almost like God knew!) But I bet it’s safe to say that amidst all of the important things he went on to accomplish, he still had his moments of impulse and hotheadedness.
…And I bet God had to interrupt him a few more times here and there.
Peter offers me a special kind of hope—Jesus loved him dearly even though he was…him. So I’m pretty sure that the same goes for me, even though I’m…me.