BEST DECISION EVER: HANGIN’ AROUND

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

HANGIN’ AROUND

Many of us are familiar with the trials and triumphs of the apostle Peter. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, just hours prior to that, Jesus prophesied that all His disciples would fail and desert Him that very night (Matthew 26:31). No way!, Peter vowed.  He’d never deny the Lord (Matthew 26:35). He’d rather go to prison and die for Jesus than deny Him (John 13:37). In fact, at that very moment, he was all pumped up and ready to follow Jesus to the very end (Luke 22:33). Come what may, Peter was going to be supremely faithful to his Lord. No way was he ever going to deny the Lord! The poor guy was surely intent on proving the Lord wrong!

But, as surely as the Lord prophesied, Peter and the rest of the disciples all forsook and deserted our Lord that evening. To his credit, however, Peter followed the arresting party to the High Priest’s house and watched from a distance what would become of Jesus. He hid himself, as it were, as he wandered fearfully about the lion’s den. When folks recognized him as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter would deny the charge, brush his accusers aside, then go to some other dark corner of the courtyard to hide. Alas, when the cock crew, he caught a glance of Jesus just as Jesus turned and looked him straight in the eyes. He’d just denied the Lord thrice, just as Jesus said he would. And with the shameful realization of what he’d just done, Peter left the courtyard and went out into the night, weeping profusely in condemnation and sorrow (Luke 22:62).

I feel so sorry for Peter at that very moment of realization because that’s exactly what I would have done. I’d be so condemned that, apart from God’s grace, I’d have killed myself. There’s no way I could have lived with the guilt and shame of denying my precious Lord. I’d rather die than live with the torments and haunts of my cowardice and guilt.

Honestly, if you were in Peter’s sandals, feeling everything he was feeling, what would you have done that night after you left the High Priest’s house? Some of us would opt for suicide. Others among us would have left the city immediately: no way am I gonna hang around and see my precious Jesus get Himself crucified and killed. That would only be adding infinitely more grief and unbearable guilt to that which were already killing me.

My first thought would be to go back home to Capernaum, my adopted hometown; or back to Bethsaida where I originally came from. But then, on second thought, I’d probably not go anywhere where I’d be recognized as being one of Jesus’ disciples. I couldn’t bear the people’s scorn and ridicule.

No, I’ll buy me a one-way ticket to nowhere where I would be a complete stranger, go on with life, and find a way to live with myself. In any wise, I definitely wouldn’t hang around Jerusalem. I wouldn’t go back to my friends and the other apostles. I just couldn’t handle the shame and guilt that were sure to come from them. No, just let me leave on a jet plane, I’ll not be back again. I’m done. I’m through. I’m all washed up. I’m a has-been. And that’s what I’ll always be.

But to Peter’s credit, he didn’t kill himself or leave. Just like he did at the High Priest’s home, Peter decided to hang around. He stayed put in Jerusalem. Presumably, he was in the crowd of Jesus’ followers who stood afar off at Calvary and watched the agony of Jesus’ crucifixion (Luke 23:49). On Resurrection Sunday when the women found the empty tomb, they hurried back into the city and relayed the news to the eleven apostles (Luke 24:9). Peter was there. And both he and John ran to the empty tomb to ascertain the truth of the women’s incredible report (Luke 24:12). It wasn’t until later that same night when Peter and the other apostles saw Jesus alive for the very first time after His crucifixion (Luke 24:33,36). I’m sure all the disciples were reinvigorated when they saw the risen Lord for themselves. The depression and guilt that hung on their shoulders weighed heavily upon them. I’m so totally sure that they got things right with Jesus and went on to have a fabulous time with the Lord for the remainder of the evening.

Peter, however, was not totally healed or relieved of his guilt—not as far as he was concerned. Just a few days later, he decided to go fishing (John 21:3). The sense in the Greek text of the Scripture is that he was going back to fishing as a livelihood. He was abandoning his apostolic calling and ministry. He was calling it quits. He was walking out on the Lord and the apostles. He was through being an apostle. That’s when the Lord showed up on Galilee’s shores and called him back to the ministry (John 21:15-19). Thankfully, Peter acceded and the rest is history.

Think about Peter’s fiery Pentecostal sermon that resulted in the conversion of thousands of Jews (Acts 2). His bold stance against the the religious leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 3-4). His judgment of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). By him the first Gentiles were saved (Acts 10). When the apostles questioned his ministry among the Gentiles, it was Peter who convinced them to open the doors of the church to the Gentiles (Acts 11). Peter didn’t stay put in Jerusalem. He went out and became a travelling missionary in Asia Minor. And he wrote a couple of letters that became a permanent part of the Holy Scriptures.

Wow! What an amazing comeback from a guy who sobbed bucket loads of tears, got buried ‘neathe a load of guilt and shame, survived the worst case of self-condemnation and depression, and went on to become a shining light of the early church. Man oh man! What happened to him? What changed him? How did he do it? Here’s the answer. Instead of Peter killing himself or splitting the scene, he decided to hang around town and stay with the rest of the disciples. I’m very sure this was a difficult thing for him to decide and do. It took guts and loads of humility. But he made the decision to stay put. And, in doing so, he put himself in a position where Jesus could crown him the comeback kid.

Have you ever made a mistake that just killed you? Are you tempted to run off and forsake the Lord and the church? Are you wanting to fall into some dark hole and die? Dear friends, look at Peter. Hang tight. Hang tough. Hang around. God’s not done with you. Resurrection Sunday’s coming round for you and Jesus is coming to crown you the next comeback kid. So cry out to God, get back to church, and make this your best decision ever. God bless you and help you be the next comeback kid.

3 Comments

  1. Nancy Ludden said,

    February 24, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Good word of encouragement, Gaylord. I often want to run and hide!!

  2. Robin said,

    February 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Gaylord, there is a song out there called “You dont have to hide anymore”, most in our camp would not like the tone or beat but to me it speaks gobs to the lonely person who see’s no way to go, yeah thanks!

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      February 26, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Hi Robin, Thanks for your comments. I don’t know the song, but hiding makes things worse. There’s something incredibly refreshing about confession, being open and honest with yourself, God, and everyone, that is difficult to explain. Openness puts us in a position where we can be helped and get on the road to recovery. Blessings on you.


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