I have been really searching for the end of the rainbow lately. I suppose the light at the end of the tunnel would be a better way to put it. Just when I thought I was through the worst of it, I find myself relapsing into a world of fears all over again.
Fear is interesting. Without fear as an emotion, we would succumb to some form of self destruction one way or another. Fear is our body’s way of telling us to seek safety, fix what is broken, or move out of the way. When I have some moments of clarity, I remind myself to thank my body for working properly, for taking care of me even when I’m not certain of what it is I am being warned against. It’s a signal that more healing needs to take place in areas of my life.
Working through fear, exploring the warning signals our bodies give us can be difficult, but are also the only way to find resurrection on the other side. In my first post I talked about Jesus facing his suffering in the garden and then making his way up to Calvary. Jesus is our prime example; the One we are to strive to follow after. But I have also been thinking about two others that weren’t divine like Jesus which may make their stories more relatable.
I have been comparing the stories of Peter and Judas and their actions leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Have you ever noticed how much they had in common? Both were followers of Jesus. Both had doubts. Their stories diverge in how they handle these doubts. Judas joins forces with the enemy, while Peter shuts his ears to the message Jesus had been trying to share with him all along.
We all know what happens. In the garden, some serious events unfold. Judas shows up with the Romans to arrest Jesus. His betrayal is completed with a kiss. But then Peter also shows some of his true colors. He reaches for the sword and is ready to do battle (violent battle at that) with these fellas. The beginning of Peter’s undoing happens when Jesus heals the guard whose ear was sliced off by Peter and his sword. Jesus was not who Peter thought He was. Later, Peter goes on to deny his relationship to Jesus three times, the rooster crows, his eyes meet Jesus’ eyes and Peter has now completed his own failings of betrayal.
Two men. Two “friends” of Jesus. Both turn their backs on him. And then Jesus goes to the cross and dies. Can you imagine the torment???? The finality these guys must have been feeling as they sat with their decisions. I know this feeling all too well. I think it is one that we all will/must face to some degree in this life. We are going to fail. We will find ourselves acting on our own whims, trapped in sin, betraying loved ones and hurting people.
And we have choices. Sometimes, the easy choice is to ignore it. We put on a happy face, we skip the suffering and/or grieving of our actions, shout “oh well, Jesus loves me anyway” and we carry on. All the while, the wounds remain unhealed and resurrection is still far off in the distance.
Others may feel we don’t have a choice at all. The ugliness is staring us in the face. Maybe we can’t escape the pain or the guilt. It surrounds us and we enter into our own walk towards calvary so to speak. Even on this path we have choices. My heart breaks for Judas. The pain was too much to bear. His choices, his actions, his failings ended the life of his friend. Just pause and think about that for a moment. I don’t know all of the ins and outs of Judas, what he was thinking when he made that bargain for silver. There are books all about what may have been going on in his heart and mind, but clearly he saw the error of his ways. And it overwhelmed him to the point where he felt that the only way out of his misery was to end his own life.
But Peter. Peter gives us hope. At the moment his eyes met with Jesus’ eyes, he flipped out! He knew. It was all coming together. All of the things Jesus had been trying to prepare him for were starting to become more clear. And there he was left with himself. Forced to stare at the ugliness of who he was, what he had done and never a chance to make it right with his best friend.
Sobering, isn’t it?
These two men, who blew it BIG TIME… Their stories have helped me understand Jesus a little more intimately. As Peter’s story continues, he goes back to fishing. And after the resurrection, Jesus shows up on the beach. He prepares some breakfast for his friends and as soon as Peter sees and knows who this person is, he runs like he has never run before. He runs to his friend and the next thing is the coolest part of the whole story.
They have a conversation.
They talk. Love and forgiveness are exchanged and Peter becomes a new person. Resurrection hasn’t just come to the Savior of the world, but it has come for Peter as well.
We know from the rest of scripture that Peter’s life was devoted to spreading the gospel, building the church, and living for Christ to the very end.
What I find so interesting and what I hold onto and believe with my whole heart is this: I think that Judas would have been given the same grace had he been able to walk through the pain he was feeling. Please hear me. This is not a message about suicide. There is no judgment on my end for the pain that runs so deep for a choice to end ones life to be made. I have felt that pain and I get it. The good news is Jesus is not only on this side of life, but He is on the other side as well and I will let Him work those things out how He chooses to, without coming to any ignorant conclusions on the matter.
What I am trying to offer is HOPE! No matter how ugly or bad things get, new life is waiting for us. We can draw from the strength we have in Christ, we can stare down that ugliness, walk through the fire, the pain, guilt, hurt and He will see us through. And not only does He see us through, but we transform. We heal and the things that need to die, die. And we are then raised to new life.
Choosing to allow the suffering to exist in our lives is hard. It can feel unbearable. But Jesus offers us hope. Don’t give up. Take each step one at a time and trust that restoration will come.