Occasionally, I find myself brimming with the vigor of self-confidence, steeped in pride, and charged with my own self-import. I may even come to believing that I am strong enough to survive as life challenges the security of my faith. I am prone to trust, quite simply — me. With the arrogance of Peter I proclaim that even if all else deserts Christ — I will not. “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
And I am ready, really. I am committed, totally. I want to be wholly true even in the face of adversity and yet, my days are like grass. I flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over me and I am gone, and this place remembers me no more. “My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.” I am frail. And not as strong as I think I am. Christ’s words to Peter echo in my ears and haunt me.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”
As wheat I am fragile. As wheat I have both that which is good and bad, profitable and in injurious. Should I be shaken, much I thought healed may be exposed. I may be shown more chaff than wheat. I may discover I am more weakness than strength, more wimp than hero. I may also find that I am not alone. For as disarming as Christ’s first words to Simon are, his next words are certain comfort.
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” I am captured by these words. The prayer that is an answered, the prayer as sure as the integrity of the Prayer. Should my Lord pray for my sustenance — I am sustained. This means, Simon failed, but his faith did not. He gave into a moment of fear, he succumbed to the pressure of self-preservation, but his faith was not destroyed. This was Christ’s prayer. Whatever my failings may assume, my faith will not fail. Not while I have an advocate in Christ. “For He knows how I was made; He remembers that I am dust.”
The journey IN is as sure as the journey OUT. “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Thank God He says “when”, not “if”. There is no doubt that the advocate will win His case, no doubt that His client will reach the other side. We may arrive scarred, bruised, worn and abused, but by His prayer we will survive and even thrive. When we have turned back, when we return to the land of the living, let our limp remind us what it was to trust ourselves. Let our limp, our scars, be reminders for a time that may come again when we become “too big for our britches” and our zeal outpaces our wisdom.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9). Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.
Psalm 102:11, Psa. 103:14-16, 13:4, Luke 22:31-33