Friday, June 12, 2009

Growing Up is Hard To Do

“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. 
Then He said to him, ‘Follow Me!”
John 21:18-19

It seems as though Jesus would have said everything He had to say to His disciples before He died. But He was gracious enough to show Himself to them after His “mysterious disappearance” from the grave. He didn’t just appear to them, he ate with them and told them what to do next…several times. 

Of all the disciples, Peter probably needed to see Jesus the most…not because he loved Jesus more than the others, but because He was in need of reassurance after he had told Jesus he would be faithful, only to deny him three times. Jesus has the familiar conversation with Peter: The “Do you love me?” question series….all three times Jesus asks him the question, Peter pledges his love to Him—“Lord, you know that I love You.”

The next verses, the ones listed above, are those that really strike me in this conversation. Isn’t this the case with us, though? “…when you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted…” When we were young Christians, and some of us still are, we pretty much did what was expected of any new believer…we began to live a “Christian life.”

“…but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands…” The more we mature in our faith, however, the more out of OUR control our lives become. We begin to learn the process of suffering, of depending on Him for our next move, and of giving up the more meaningless methods of coping with life.

Just as Jesus stretched out His hands, let others clothe Him, and allowed Himself to be led to the cross, we too will learn to give ourselves up and be led for Kingdom purposes as we become “older” in our faiths. What is really surreal is that each one of us will learn to die to ourselves in different ways. God is creative as He works on us…His masterpiece, His creation. AND…it may take more time on some of us than others to lead us to that place of spiritual old age with Him.

As Peter and Jesus were having this conversation, the verse goes on to tell us what John was doing: “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them…when Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? YOU must follow me.’” In other words, we can’t compare our walk with Him to anyone else’s. He is very clear—YOU must follow Him.

Isn’t it cool that John didn’t even have to be asked… He just followed. John followed Him during His ministry, he followed Him at His death, and He followed Him the rest of His life. Let’s ask God to help us do the same….hopefully, without being asked to do so over and over.


Will you consider pondering the verses above, as well as the following passage in Mark? Then as He leads, pray...ask Him to teach you from His heart today...
Mark 8:34 -35 says: 
"Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples
 and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
 and take up his cross and follow me. 
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, 
but whoever loses his life for me 
and for the gospel will save it.’”

What does “losing your life for the gospel” mean to you? 
What cross has He given you to carry as you follow Him?

6 friends shared a comment:

Denise said...

I would gladly give up my life for the gospel, this world is not my home. I feel the cross I carry is my diabetes, but I will continue to carry it, if that is His will. I love you dear friend.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

"When you are old, you will stretch out your hands..."

I couldn't help but immediately think about the younger me...the one content to keep my hands to myself, closely guarding the precious parts of my heart/life with Jesus. As I have matured in the faith and am continuing to do so, I notice less "clenching of fists" and more stretching.

I've never thought about this verse in this light; thank you for this, friend.

I love new imagery and ponderings. You've given that to me tonight.


Joyfulsister said...

Amen my Sistah!! I can truly relate to this post and leaves me with much to ponder. What a wonderful sharing of the word. I would love for you to enter my giveaway that is open until midnight June 15. And I also have a special award at the end of the giveaway post.

Blessings Lorie

Patty Wysong said...

Losing your life for the gospel? Wow. That's a tough one.

For me I think it's doing what God want me to and not what I was wanting and planning on doing. It's a constant choice.

Much to think about here.

Unknown said...

Very insightful bible teaching, and spiritually motivating too!

Dee Yoder said...

I thought I already read and commented on this, Laura! LOL. My mind is going. (: Beautiful post and I love the poem--so true. (And thanks for leaving comments on my Amish Wedding story today! Love you!)