Do any of you have problems with talking too much? I know I do! A friend and I have talked about this problem before. We decided that we need one of those medical alert pendants…”Help! I’m talking and I can’t shut up!”
I wonder if the Apostle Peter ever felt like that? I mean, there was that whole, “Get behind me, Satan!” thing (Matthew 16:23) and, then, there was that “I’ll never deny you” comment (Luke 22: 54-62).
The worst one ever, though, had to have been when God, Himself, had to tell Peter to shut up. I was reading Mark 9 the other day and had to cringe a little bit when I read this passage:
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:2-7)
In other words, “You’re standing before the God of the universe and two of the greatest prophets who ever lived; we don’t need to be hearing anything from you right this second, Peter.”
I mean, seriously, what made Peter think that he needed to speak right that second? I thought of the Mercy Me song, I Can Only Imagine:
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
Apparently, Peter didn’t have any trouble speaking. The Bible tells us that the tongue, though it is small, is one of the hardest parts of the body to control (James 3). I often think about poor Peter and why Jesus chose him as one of His intimate friends. I wonder, if maybe, it was because of the foolish things that Peter sometimes said and did. If it was because Jesus knew what a hard time Peter had putting the things of God ahead of his own desires. If it was because Peter was, you know, human.
If God could use Peter in such a mighty way as He did, with all of his faults and his inability to control his tongue or his anger (let’s not forget the whacking off the ear of the high priest’s servant incident of John 18:10-11), couldn’t he use me in spite of all of my faults?
I love that the Bible gives us example after example of regular, ordinary people with faults and shortcomings to which we all can relate who were used by God in spite of themselves. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t mean that we’re perfect or that we live sin-free, blameless lives. It just means that we’re willing to be moldable, willing to be teachable, willing to be made willing to serve a God Who will use us to fulfill His kingdom purposes, often in spite of ourselves.
I am thankful and awestruck that God will allow me to be a part of His plans despite my shortcomings. I am thankful that He is willing to pick me up when I fall, dust me off and forgive my failures. I am thankful that I don’t have to be perfect to serve Him or be used by Him; that He will use me in spite of the times He has to remind me to, “Shut up and listen!”.