Mind-breaking, soul-crushing, dream-ending grief.
Cracked into a million pieces with no hope of ever being put back together.
If you've ever watched the end of your life unfold before your very eyes, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
What's Good About It?
Here's how the story unfolds for one person.
You're out at dinner with your Mentor and best friends.
It has been an incredible day. Something is different though, and the mood is more somber.
You believe you have a special relationship with your mentor, but there's always this one guy hanging around that seems to get all of the best information first.
You've been promised you'll be the one to carry on the work of the Mentor, but it seems like you always mess everything up.
So here you are. The Mentor has just made a huge announcement, and you have to ask THAT GUY what He really means. When He elaborates, you protest and you're shot down as one of the traitors.
This is the scenario we are presented in the Bible, on the day we traditionally call Good Friday. The announcement? One of Jesus' friends will betray him.
Peter rushes to say he will NEVER betray Jesus, and Jesus rebuffs him; saying Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows twice.
A Little Fire - A Little Sleep - A Lot of Fear
After dinner, the group walks to their favorite isolated spot. With such big news, it's time to get away from the crowds.
The Garden of Gethsemane - The Garden of the Press - an old growth grove of olive trees, just far enough out of town to escape most of the Passover noise of families gathering to commemorate the deliverance of the nation from slavery in Egypt. A Promise and a Promised Land.
Yet every moment or two, a sound of laughter is carried on the wind. There's no laughter with the group of men.
Jesus tells them to watch and wait by the campfire. He's going off on his own a little to pray. But, he turns and asks Peter, James and John (THAT GUY) to come along and keep watch.
"Sure! Honored to! I'm going to PROVE I'm not a traitor!"
A big meal. A long day. A nice walk. A cool breeze. The glow of the campfire. The crackle of burning wood singing a lullaby. Sleep steals in.
"WHAT? Oh, Jesus forgive me. I just dozed off."
And again. And then a third time. Is this the betrayal? Is this what Jesus predicted? If only...
More fire coming up the hill. Judas has brought the temple guard. Jesus arrested. Everyone scatters.
Now Peter and John have followed the arresting party to the Temple courtyard. Some sort of trial is going on. They are accusing Jesus of heresy!
"What's that? Wasn't I with Him? ABSOLUTELY NOT!"
"No, I tell you! I don't know Him?"
"What the ****! Can't you understand anything? I DON'T KNOW THE MAN!"
A rooster crows. Peter sees Jesus. Jesus sees Peter. Peter runs away weeping as if the world has ended. He has no idea.
Could It Get Any Worse?
Jesus is dead.
How can that even be real? We just saw Him. Had dinner with Him. Walked and talked with Him.
Now he's gone. And I failed Him.
Maybe I could have done something to change everything.
Every shred of hope is gone. All that is left is this deep, dark, unquenchable grief. And the only One who ever gave any light or hope is gone. Forever.
That's Great for You, But It Won't Work for Me. I'm Too Far Gone.
Rumors! Jesus is alive! Mary saw Him!
"He says He's coming to see us! Those women are crazy! How could this be real? But maybe it's true!
Peter runs to the tomb. It is empty. Where could He be?
"But, there He is. Right in the middle of us. Judas is dead. Thomas is missing. Maybe I should have hanged myself, too. Or stayed away. How can I even look Him in the eyes? Everything that might have been is over for me. I'm a traitor. I might as well have put the nails in His hands myself."
"He said He'd come back, but it's been days. I can't stand this anymore. I'm going fishing. Who's going with me?
Fish, Faith, Forgiveness
Fishing all night, and still nothing. But, someone is calling out from the shore.
"What? Cast on the other side?"
"I've heard this before! It's the TEACHER! It's JESUS!"
Off into the water Peter jumps - swimming, swimming, swimming toward hope and future.
They eat, they laugh, just like old times. Then Jesus starts talking about the future. THAT GUY is at it again. But Jesus questions Peter about his love. Jesus knows that Peter is beyond big boasts now. All Peter can say is,
"You know that I care about You. I don't trust myself to say I really love You. After all, look at how I've failed You, Jesus."
It isn't about you loving ME, Peter - it's about ME loving YOU! Follow me, and leave the rest to me.
My Story - Your Story
I've experienced that soul-numbing grief that comes from failing Jesus. Abandoning the cause. Looking out for myself instead of the things of the Kingdom of God.
I've experienced His restoration, too. When I finally came to realize it isn't about how great I perform tasks and assignments, but about how much He loves me. How He gave Himself for me, so that I could live inside of His perfection.
I've also experienced the grief that comes from watching your world crumble around you; left under the rubble of what might have been. At this season of life, I'm experiencing the peeling away of rock after rock that was meant to destroy me, but has only made me more clear. Resurrection.
What about you?
What promises are unfulfilled that make you feel unworthy of love?
What failures make you believe it isn't worth trying again?
What disappointments loom over you to keep you from taking one step toward God?
It's time for you to understand that He is running toward YOU!
In all of our brokenness, there is only one source of hope and life, and that is taking the Hand of the One who was completely broken for our restoration. There is only one way to keep going - let someone else lead the way.
Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament, lays out the reasons. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament show us the reality. The Promise and the Fulfillment don't always look the same.
1 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.c
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
All of us bear the scars of grief and brokenness. Some give up, believing there is no hope (Judas). Some run away, believing there is no restoration (Peter.)
In the end, Jesus is the One who shows up - stretches out His arms, and draws us back into the plan.
It's your choice whether you walk into those open arms. I hope you'll take the step.
Here's a little prayer to get you started.
I really don't know about all of this. It seems a little strange to me, but, I really need something to change in my life. If you are there, will you please help me? I need to know that there is Someone who can put my life, my hopes, my dreams in order.
I need peace. I need help. I'm asking You to be the One to help me.
Make Yourself really real to me. Teach me about the real Jesus. Teach me about real faith.
If you'd like to talk about it, just shoot me an email. [email protected]
Live At Your Best. Live Inspired.