Was pretty shaky that night.
Jesus whom he knew and loved
But all Peter seemed
Capable of was fear and violence
Rising to his Lord’s defense in the garden,
Did he think that
Cutting off the soldiers ear
Would force Jesus
To declare the Kingdom
Right there and then
In a mighty power show?
Following along in the shadows
Trying to figure it all out,
Peter who has asked all the questions
Forgets all the answers.
Forgets that this is his declared Messiah,
Son of the Living God.
In fear, he denies; the cock crows.
I’ve been a Peter too.
I’ve asked the questions
Should know the answers
Have had the closeness of walking with him.
But like Peter
In the rush of anger and frustration,
Gathers the dust of my crushed faith,
Takes it in his hand,
Molded by his grace
Makes it a solid thing.
Accepts my love and sends me out again
To feed his lambs.
I’ve been like Peter too many times. Unfortunately, not the strong Peter, but the weak denying Peter or the angry impulsive one. Things I should know vaporize under conditions when my faith should be strong, or at least visible.
A blind man used to come by our house on his circuit of begging at the mission. He would be there waiting when I came home tired after a long morning at work. I would be in no mood to deal with him and always wished that our cook would have given him something and sent him on his way before I got home. But that job always seemed to be left to me.
He never wanted much. He would request some rice, maybe an empty tin can. Or maybe a full one of fish.
It just seemed such an intrusion, such a unreasonable imposition on my time. I had my children to feed and they were usually waiting for me. I was tired and just wanted to go and sit and eat before siesta time. I didn’t want him to be there bothering me.
Yet there he was. Time and time again. I never improved a lot in my attitude I am afraid. I was being a Peter. When the demands got too personal, when they required that I take some of my precious time to help this guy – I denied the God who sent me to Africa in the first place. I gave him stuff, but I didn’t give it with love in Christ’s name.
I don’t know what became of this man when all the missionaries had to leave at the beginning of the civil war. He probably was helped as much by his village people as he was by me. They were quite likely more generous than I was – helping him in spite of their own suffering.
God, forgive me. I saw a man suffering but I didn’t see you. I, like Peter, denied you. I failed. And still you say to me – go and feed my sheep.
Even knowing God’s forgiveness, I still live with the regret that I could have done some of the simple tasks he put in front of me so much better. I wonder if Peter relived his regret when the cock crowed each morning?