When walking through this life, we find out that it is unpredictable. It is so full of ups and downs that (without wanting to sound cliche) it really can feel like a roller coaster. How is it that we can have a period that is absolutely amazing and we feel like everything is going right and then things begin to take a bad turn and we find ourselves speeding down a hill seemingly out of control? We have all experienced it. Sometimes we make choices that bring the ups and downs, and a lot of times we just get hit by circumstances completely out of our control. A death of a loved one, a bad turn in the economy, the loss of a job, the list can go on and on with what can bring us reeling under the pressure. For me, the unpredictable ups and downs reminds me of how important it is to have the stability a relationship with God can give. Yesterday, I looked at Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah and how Jesus showed us that ultimately we learn from God. Jesus told Peter he was blessed to learn that from God, and I can just imagine what an emotional high that Peter had to be experiencing. But, today we see a different turn in Peter's story. Please click on the link and read Matthew 16:21-28.
Jesus began to talk about His death, which was making everyone uncomfortable. Peter pulled Jesus aside to have a heart to heart talk about all this negativity. Peter told Him that He shouldn't say such things because such things would never happen to Him. After all, He is the Messiah! But Jesus' response wasn't, "Oh, that's right - you hear from God! I shouldn't say such things. Sorry!" It was the complete and total opposite response that I'm sure Peter was expecting. Instead, Jesus rebuked Satan for speaking such tempting things through Peter. He then told Peter that he was only seeing things from a human's perspective and not from God's. Ouch! Could you just imagine Peter feeling like he was on the downward turn? But this also serves as a warning to all of us.
Our walk with Jesus can have these ups and downs. In the verses we looked at yesterday, we see how Peter's heart was tuned in to God and he understood who Jesus truly is. But in the verses today, we see that Peter's heart was tuned in to his own personal desires. Jesus uses this moment as a teaching tool and begins to explain to all His disciples in verse 24 (NLT), "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." You see, Jesus used this as an opportunity to remind them that our own selfish desires do not match up with God's and in order to follow Jesus we have to get away from those desires. Following Jesus didn't mean that everything in life would go smooth and great and we have to be willing to accept that. But, following Jesus does mean that throughout life's ups and downs we have someone so much greater than us that will help us through. Following Jesus will be difficult at times, but He is always with us. In these verses Jesus also reminds all of us that it is far more important to gain life than to gain the whole world while losing your life. It is far better to let go of what we hold dear in order to hold on to Jesus' hand.
Are you looking at things through God's eyes or human eyes? What do you need to let go of in order to hang on to Jesus through the ups and downs?
This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.