Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? Robert Browning
I’ve been called out on a lot of things. When I was about ten years old, my mom called me into her room and asked me how her favorite antique hand mirror got broken. One fateful day during my eighth grade English class, a teacher picked up and read a note I wrote calling him a SOB. Before sunrise, I stood next to my dad as he pointed out the dent in his brand new Mirada. Not my finest hour.
It takes a while to appreciate and to accept those defining moments as crucial to the man or woman we are called to be. We’ve all had crucible moments where our character was been ground down or refined in some way. The temptation is always there to resist the experience or diminish it in some way. I can recall what the pit in my stomach felt like the day my mom handed me the broken pieces of her mirror. It’s not hard to summon up the shaky feeling that electrified my body as my English teacher read my note out loud to the class. I can recall how my words evaporated into thin air as I explained the circumstances involved with backing into another friends' car while leaving a party. The intense shame I felt afterward cut into the fiber of my heart like the blade of a skilled surgeon. I have the scar to prove it.
I believe I have something in common with one of the disciples. Jesus asked Simon Peter a series of questions in chapter twenty-one of John’s gospel. Notice the master craftsmanship of a skillful author. He used ‘Simon Peter.’ Simon was the name given to him at birth from his parents. Simon was the name he was known by before he met Jesus. But, Jesus renamed him Peter. Peter, the rock on which he could build something great. Simon Peter and another disciple had been present in the high priest’s courtyard after Jesus’ arrest. Simon Peter was asked three times if he had been a disciple of Jesus. Simon Peter denied it. The rooster crowed. Not his finest hour.
Simon—are you going back to your old ways or Peter—are you going to be the man I call you to be? Definitely a crucible moment.
It helps to consider a process of character building and refining. For Simon Peter, there was a three-step process:
1. Say the right thing.
2. Do the right thing.
3. Become the right person.
It is tempting to get caught up in the process or settle for the safety of being comfortable with what we’ve already accomplished. There is a continuum to disciple making. As we discovered at Easter, belief is only the beginning. Jesus lead the way. He fulfilled the process perfectly. He invites his followers to reexamine the evidence of the thousands of little choices we make daily in light of his grace. More importantly, Jesus doesn’t abandon us during our process. He doesn’t want us living in a prison of guilt and shame. He is the key that opens the door for us to become so much more. The transformation is so personal he may even give you a new name.
“I tell you the truth, 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.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. The he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18-19