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John 13:36-38 – Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Even if you’re not a big Charles Dickens fan (like I am), you are familiar with that line. You’re also familiar with the concept.
How many moments in life seem to turn on a swivel from the best to the worst? How many times does it happen that the highest of mountain peaks is followed by the deepest of valleys? Life turns so quickly, for better or for worse… and from better to worse to better again. At least for me, it just seems like each day is a roller coaster ride.
It’s not just the events of my life that fluctuate back and forth, from good to bad; and from bad to good. It’s me – my actions. It seems like one minute I’m doing all the right things; saying all the right things; thinking all the right things, on a great path! And then the next minute, complete, epic failure. Suddenly, I am doing the very stuff that I vowed to never do again; saying the words that I was convinced would never come out of my mouth again; battling dragons that I thought had been slain long ago. And in those moments, I just look at myself and shake my head. How can such evil exist inside of me? How can there be such a disconnect between my words and my actions? What is wrong with me?
That’s why I really get Simon Peter. In these verses he is standing on the brink of what will become the longest night of his life. He has no idea what is coming – the fear and confusion and deception and heartbreak. At this moment, his world still makes sense.
Right now, Simon sees no real difficulties in life. Right now, in this moment, his world makes sense. He loves Jesus, and he knows Jesus is close and present, and when he pledges to fight to the death, he means it. He will PROVE that in the Garden when he pulls his sword on a Roman soldier, but even that will not be enough to change the trajectory of the night. In just a few short hours, everything that Simon Peter knows will be called into question. All that he believes will be challenged. It will be the longest night of his life.
Years later, as an old man, Peter, would write about the lessons that he learned on this night. As he wrote about suffering, he stated that he had learned that we are not called to evade suffering or to destroy the source of suffering, but that we are called to face it with courage, through faith.
He also told us that we are to be controlled and alert; that we are to prepare our minds for action; and that we are supposed to be on our guard. You know why? Because you just never know when things are going to turn – you never know when Satan is going to attack.That’s important advice for me today, too. Confidence is well and good, but preparation is key.
Lord, help me to stand in You today. Through Your Grace, give me strength and Wisdom to navigate the day, and help me to stay close to You. Even when the enemy attacks, help me resist temptation and stay in fellowship with You.