There are some days when all I want to do is shut my mouth and never speak another word. Today is one of those days.
When I feel passionately about something in particular, I say things with too much emphasis and I come across harsh and insensitive. I say things all wrong. I mean, my words come out all twisted together and upside down and people think I’m totally saying stuff that I don’t want them to think I’m saying. And then I get all nervous and my stomach knots up because I struggle a lot when I feel misunderstood. And then I say even more stuff that only gets me deeper in the hole and… I don’t like this!
Why do I have to be so outspoken all the time? Why am I so much like Peter and spout off at the most inopportune times? Why can’t I be all thoughtful and objective and pragmatic instead of letting my emotions take over? Why can’t I be more like Jesus and be thoughtful and objective and pragmatic?
And this morning when I woke early (while it was still dark, because no matter what, if it’s dark out, it’s early) and I was desperately trying to hear God over my inner voice berating me and telling me, “If only you’d not say stuff that gets you in trouble!”, I strained to hear Him. And He whispered that maybe He wouldn’t comfort me in this, but that He would help me build muscle. Ugh! – but I didn’t want more muscle – I wanted to be soothed and placated. I wanted to be told it would all be okay and that He would fix it. What I heard instead was that He would give strength to speak truth with grace and that He would make my voice stronger, not quieter. Definitely not what I wanted to hear! I was saying “DELIVER ME!” and He said “I will be with you through it.”
I wanted to hear that I should go back and rescind everything I said about the matter. That it wasn’t important anyway and that He would get this across another way, through someone else, at a different time and in a different way. I wanted to hear that I was not responsible for this message.
Instead, I have been reminded that I AM responsible for the message – but I’m not responsible for the outcome. This is a theme that has come back to me over and over the last few years and somehow I keep forgetting – speak the message I give you, then SHUT UP! Stop trying to make people understand where you’re coming from. Stop trying to make sure you’re not misunderstood.
Jesus is such a good example of living this out when He walked the dusty roads here among us. He certainly wasn’t very concerned about what people thought of Him. Why was that? How could He speak truth with grace and let the chips fall where they may? Was it not because He knew who He was? And was it not because He knew His mission and purpose?
Ouch… See, when you teach on identity you can be sure that you’ll be tested on your identity. So have I already forgotten who I am? Have I already forgotten whose I am? Have I already forgotten God’s purposes for me? And have I forgotten that Peter wasn’t always THAT Peter?
Peter gives me so much hope! There was Peter before, and then there was Peter after. And God took his weakness (rash outspokenness) and made it one of his greatest strengths (boldness for Christ). I can only hope for something close to that!