The Bare Soul
- July 19, 2009
Fools Rush In
John 18:10 - Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave's name was Malchus.
English poet Alexander Pope once stated: For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Quite possibly the 17th century poet was referring to a juxtaposition between fear and faith. For with the spiritual eye of an angelic or supernatural being comes an eternal perspective, while a mortal fool can only grit his teeth, close his eyes and charge ahead not knowing the outcome. Impulsive behavior is not characteristically thought of as faith-driven, as demonstrated by Peter when he went into defense-mode for the Lord Jesus. While Peter's sudden burst of zeal to protect his Lord might look courageous and full of faith in the moment, we soon find that his supposed show of strength was nothing more than his own fear of accepting the stark reality of this dark hour in time. Jesus' admonitions to His disciples about His betrayal and death had become more emphatic and pronounced the weeks leading up to this fateful night. However, the true horror of the moment had not gripped any of Jesus' companions until that evening in the garden when they came for the Savior with torches and weapons. As the co-leader of this band of followers, Peter somehow must have felt a responsibility to "act", for certainly to do nothing would be a denial of the Lord Himself. Or would it? Oftentimes, the very act of impulsiveness or the need to "work for the Lord" can betray the very faith that we might claim in knowing Him. Actions often times speak louder than words, but not in this case. Peter's faith was aborted that night not by merely an impulsive act, but more poignantly by denying his Lord three times.
It is much easier to die for Christ than to live for Him, day after day. Death brings about a sense of the heroic sentimentality where our sympathies are drawn out toward those who would give their lives in the spirit of a martyr. Yet, giving one's life is final and complete whereas living daily for Christ requires a fortitude of courage and will that is uncharacteristic of the drama of this type of death. Jesus Christ did not dramatize His impending demise to His disciples, but merely stated its certainty. However, Peter conceived in his own mind that Christ's death could not be divorced from an earthly struggle, hence he took impetuous action against those who had come to arrest Jesus, in particular Malchus. (It's ironic that Peter lacked the "ears to hear" the Master's plan regarding His betrayal and death, and this is what the apostle took from the high priest's slave in his zeal.) Peter could only imagine dying for the Lord and not living without Him beyond that night. However, Jesus had planned that Peter would come to the end of himself that evening and to be stripped of his fear of abandonment by His Friend and Lord.
Impulsive actions and reactions often have their roots in fear. In personalities such as Peter, they manifest with a sense of bravado yet they are very much selfish in their origin. Often times, the desire is to "fix" something that might be broke or as in this case to reconcile a situation that has gone askew. Insecurity and fear of losing something becomes the touch point of this inward struggle that manifests in impetuous ways. As leaders in our homes, many men often feel powerless in the face of what seem to be overwhelming situations. We grow accustomed to making decisions and acting abruptly because we often feel that is what the situation warrants. However, there are other times when we need to step back and reassess. What if one of our teenage children becomes involved in something illegal and gets arrested, whether it be for underage drinking or drug use or any number of other things? Or, what if our unmarried daughter comes to us and announces that she is pregnant? How do we react, or better yet, act in such a situation. Oftentimes, as parents, we know it is best not to react or pass judgment in the moment. As a father raising teenage children, I came to a point where I would often defer "decisions" until the next day or possibly later. This was against my nature because I am not a procrastinator but I like to keep my proverbial plate clean at all times regarding life's decisions. By deferring action, the Lord was teaching me important lessons regarding self-control while I was not rashly saying or doing something that I would later regret. Death of self was coming in daily doses when I had to deal with such situations. It would have been much easier for me to rush in and appear that I had the whole affair under control, but this would have been merely a ruse and a dramatic flourish. Like Peter, I needed to learn that the drama of Gethsemane was not to be played out with weapons to inflict harm, but that the garden scene needed to be waited out until the perspective of the morning.
Beloved, we all have our areas of influence whether they be over our homes, our businesses or merely over our own souls. We must train ourselves through the Holy Spirit to not move impulsively but to wait on the Lord and His guidance. For some of us, that will be easier said than done. We must control the temptation of "fixing" something that very possibly might have a different perspective the following day. A night's rest has a remarkable ability to restore perspective as well as give us the grace to proceed in a spiritual way (Lamentations 3:22-23). While Peter's grief of acting rashly and denying the Lord was profound and life-changing in the end for the disciple, we can learn from his misplaced loyalty to his own self-centered agenda. We, as followers of Christ, must stop and reassess the situation when the "darkness of Gethsemane" surrounds us. For truly, the light of dawn will come which will give us new eyes to see what He desires. Then, and only then can we move forth with stalwart wisdom rather than the impulsiveness that is the hallmark of the foolish.
Lord Jesus, thank You for your wisdom and that we don't need to foolishly rush into life's problems that come our way. Help us to step back, take a breath, and come at the problem with Your faith and grace. If we must defer to the wisdom of the following day, Lord, give us the patience to do so. For only in your will shall we be successful and full of victory in any given situation. We thank you and glorify You. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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