Serving others certainly has its rewards. It takes you out of your regular routine, you get to show people that they matter, and the blessings are like boomerangs; you give out and it comes right back.
In the last few years serving others took on many new shapes and forms. What have you experienced? Much of what I experienced was listening to others over video calls, extra text messages and even some “marco polo” exchanges! We had to do the best we could to connect without regular human face to face interaction.
But what happens when it’s inconvenient to serve others? We get tired, have work to do, and honestly we get lazy, we are only human after all. There was a time when I was so protective of my time that I nearly missed my BOOMERANG moment.
All week I was focused on work, writing, planning, shooting video, and praying. I didn’t look up from my computer much which my neglected family can attest! <insert VERY sad face here> I didn’t really want to take 2 hours out to do bible study for the women in the local jail, but I made the commitment and the word always has that sweet small whisper in my soul encouraging me, so I went anyway.
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Matt 25:36-40 (NIV)
Please don’t take this writing as a cheer for me, that is certainly not my intent, I just want you also to be moved by scripture and experience its richness like I have. It may look different than going into jail for bible study, but it all has the same God-glorifying, Kingdom-building result.
So, Faith like Peter? The ladies and I looked at a study contained in a book called The 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole. I highly recommend this 40 day lenten fasting devotional any time of the year. In Luke 22, Jesus tells Peter, “Satan asked to sift all of you like wheat.” Well, just like a scorpion must sting, the enemy must sift!
Lucky for Peter, Jesus assured him, “but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (v32) The testing Peter was going to experience was if he was going to proclaim his allegiance to Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. Well, if you read through Luke 22 you will find out that Peter fails, miserably.
Peter’s failure crushed him. After denying knowing Jesus 3 times, he heard the cock crow, caught the eye of Jesus, and ran away to cry bitterly. I’m certain it wasn’t just a soft cry, it was probably one of those gut wrenching, doubled over, loud cries that begs to be washed clean of pain.
At this point Peter had 2 choices:
- To stay knocked down at his failure
- Get back up.
Jesus knew these choices already and gave Peter preemptive encouragement, “and when you have turned again, strengthen your brother.” (v32) It’s easy to understand why Peter would just choose to stay defeated. Failing is hard. Betraying the love and faith you have for someone holds shame and that strengthens our tendency to protect our ego. To get back up takes humility and a ton of trust.
So what does this mean for us?
The enemy wants nothing more than for us to fail
This can come in so many forms. Through self induced actions like; addiction, anger, pride, laziness. Or through acts on to others; slander, judgment, physical/emotional attacks. Experiencing any of these examples can knock us down hard. The enemy knows that our mind is weak and the voices in our head can become so loud that getting back up when we are down is really hard.
Jesus prays for us
Jesus who prays for us to be strong in our faith, has got to be comforting. This is why we can join Peter and get back up time and time again. I can’t think of a better faith to be a part of where God, who created us, is our biggest cheerleader and advocate, knowing that we are His and He is ours.
Our story matters and can encouraged be use it to strengthen others
Jesus told Peter when you turn (get back up) go and strengthen your brothers. Our faith strengthens experiences and we can use them to strengthen others. That is a great encouragement, that our suffering can be for our benefit as well as for the benefit of others.
What will you do with Peter’s faith strengthening experience? Take some time to reflect on your experiences and note how your faith has been strengthened. Then you can strengthen me & fellow believers by sharing your story.
For real, I would love to hear your story. I am a sucker for them, and I will drop everything to read your story. I would be honored if you replied with your story to this post for sure!
My Prayer this week is that your faith is strengthened. If there is no one in your life who offers you strength and encouragement, let me be the one this week.