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The Peter principle

Illness seriously wiped me out yesterday, so I'm glad today has been better. Still unfocused and fuzzy-headed, but got most necessary things accomplished. The office is a pit, as bad as I've ever left it. Hard to work in under normal circumstances, and don't have the presence of mind to tidy up well. Thankfully my home isn't too bad.

The only phone call of the day was an anonymous caller asking for pastoral care. With John away and with my former life as a counselor, I took it, if only to see if it would require referral or if I could help. She had gotten into a terrible injury accident years ago and was still embroiled in the legal and insurance battles associated with it. She described herself as being "someone God could always count on," but in the midst of things and out of fear of not being taken care of, she lied under oath in a deposition yesterday. She was crushed and mentioned considering suicide.

I'm thankful that I've dealt with suicidal gestures before; I can't imagine what it would have been like for someone without training and experience to field this call. We talked about Peter, his certainty that he would never fail Jesus, his subsequent denial, and Christ's special concern for him after His resurrection. I simply asked her if she could see herself in that story, and if Peter had somehow outsinned God's grace. Then we went through example after example: Abraham's fathering Ishmael, Moses striking the rock more than once, etc. We sin when we are afraid that God won't come through for us, when we believe that we have to look out for ourselves until He shows up or in case He doesn't.

It's an awesome privilege to hear someone's confession and proclaim Christ's forgiveness of sin—the gospel, the ministry of reconciliation between God and man. I emphasized to her that I wasn't even going to talk to her about what she needed to do, only about who she is and how God deals with her sin. "Imperatives are always based on indicatives"—we learn to follow and obey because of who God has first declared us to be. The weight of being "someone God could always count on" was likely as heavy if not heavier than her sin. We don't make it happen. If we believe that we do, then suicide can indeed feel like a way to respond when we fail. She needed to see herself in Peter.

I hope I was faithful in giving her truth and hope for that moment and forward, and I've been praying for her since. She's in His grip, and so am I.

Comments

I emphasized to her that I wasn't even going to talk to her about what she needed to do, only about who she is and how God deals with her sin. "Imperatives are always based on indicatives"—we learn to follow and obey because of who God has first declared us to be.

Wonderful .. WONDERFUL words. Coming to terms of WHO we are IN CHRIST is life changing. I'm so glad you took that call.
... and I'll never view The Peter Principle in the same light as I have prior to reading this.
It does change things, doesn't it? He was promoted to the level of his incompentence, too...in order to show him that his competence would never save him.
Peter is one of my absolute favorite characters. He seems to be everything I'm not ... passionate and emotional ... wears his heart on his sleeve ... impulsive. I look at him and see a man who walked on water when the others didn't even ask, a man who loved and would fight and die for his Lord. And yet he broke ... terribly.

He is a reminder to me that God loves and cares about broken things and that there is always a spot next to Him for such as Peter ... and such as me. He reminds me that one can always find redemption at the Christ's feet.

It was a good posting. Thanks.
Had Peter somehow outsinned God's grace? Man, that's a thought to chew on!!

You're right, what a privilege. Thank you for obeying and following His leading. What an incredible conversation God allowed, because you said "yes." I am convicted right now about whether I'd be ready to take that phone call, what I'd say, and if I'd point the caller heavenward as I should. God's name is great and always to be praised -- I feel like I miss that mark a lot. Good job.
God prepares good works in advance for us to do. It's certainly not a function of my having my life together in any way—far from it! What makes a difference is being constantly immersed in His story, in the gospel. Then when the moment comes, we preach the gospel to one another in the same way we preach it to ourselves, in the same way we need it preached to us. The Spirit makes that happen, too. We just need to be willing to get caught up in His story until it becomes the context for everything.
Precisely!

I just heard recently about how God has prepared good works in advance for us to do. I love how God repeats His message to me in so many different ways. :)
That's awesome. :)
Wow, that's really cool :)
Hey, it's good to see your face icon here!
My cat's name is chipper
Hello, Chipper.
Excellent counseling my friend.
Good for you! I would have been useless, I'm afraid.