Growing up, my parent made raising me and my sisters look easy. From my perspective, my mom maintained our home so well. It all seemed mundane and simple, because she made it look easy. My dad worked hard and took care of us financially and managed everything outside of the house - the yard, the car, the trash.
So growning up I thought and I imagined how it would look like for me one day, to be a parent, to take care of a home like my mom and dad. And because they made it look easy, I envisioned it would be just that.
Little did I know how much more complicated being a parent actually was, let alone being an adult. All the external factors that can quickly complicate and affect parenting. The things that my parents, like any parents, had to navigate - life stresses, amongst personal growing pains, amongst the unforeseen and the unexpected. And so, making dinner, going to work, doing loads of laundry, simply doing the mundane of “adulting” while working through all of these things, can effect you more than you can think.
From my perspective I wasn’t privy to all that came with the role of a parent - the weight, the responsibilities, the pressures. And so my perspective of "how it would feel when..." was not completely accurate.
The reality is now, being married and a parent, is in so many ways, not everything I expected it to be. There is more involved than just giggly feelings - it is also a lot of hard work, and in every way, much more rewarding than I could have ever envisioned. But to have no experience first hand, it’s hard to have a well rounded expectation.
So much of life can feel that way, can’t it?
We can go through life with the imagination of how “it” will feel... to graduate, to get married, to have your dream career, to turn a decade older... And just sometimes, it's not like we imagined at all.
And when its not everything you expected, it can be confusing. In one sense it’s everything you could have dreamt of and in another it’s not how you expected it.
If you have experienced this, well, we are not the only ones!
The disciples had formed ideas about the Messiah’s mission, and therefore, their perspective on how “how it would be” was not completely accurate. Never did they expect Jesus to die, to rise again, and to ascend back to Heaven. They had an idea of things to come, but their expectations didn’t match what came. Today we celebrate His resurrection, but what led up to this point was much more than an easy read story of the Bible. You can’t just skim through it because there was so much emotion and depth beneath what is written. When we read the scriptures now, we have the luxury of knowing how things end but the disciples didn’t. Jesus death was painful for the disciples to watch. There was confusion. For two days there was absolute silence - can you imagine? And so, if we read through line by line, allowing ourselves to step into the disciples shoes, the dialogue changes for us.
Everything about Jesus’s life didn’t equate to what others expected, so much so, that the religious leaders of the time missed Jesus. His birth, his birth city, his family, his career - it just didn’t suite a king. As a result, Jesus’s lack of earthy “qualifications” became a stumbling block for so many to receive him as the Lord of Lord. They were so blind with their own form of religiosity, that when Jesus walked in, they were too proud to accept Him.
When Jesus predicted his own death the disciples were not anticipating this news and rejected it. Peter, who was one of the closest to Jesus, tried to rebuke Jesus because he didn’t agree with these plans. Peter also tried to prevent the soldiers from taking Jesus away by cutting off a soldiers ear. At the last supper, Peter made a commitment that he wouldn’t deny Him. Little did Peter know how everything would transpire, and therefore, he wasn’t prepared.
“Then they seized him [Jesus] and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Peter followed from a distance.
I wonder as Peter followed from a distance all the thoughts that swarmed his mind, as Jesus, for a moment, looked weak. Everything that Peter believed was once and for all being shaken. The walk from the Garden of Gesthemte to the high priest home was not short, scholars say it could have taken up to 5 hours. That walk late into the night must have been long, loney and scary one - the torment the disciples must have felt. What is happening? How will Jesus get out of this mess? Why is Jesus letting them do this?
Oswald Chamber comments on Peter’s experience in his moments of denying Jesus,
"When the way of joyfully leaving all and following Jesus in the bounding days of devotion turns into the way of sorrow, and the heroic isolation of being with Jesus ends in shadows, and Jesus seems weak before the world, and the way of following ends in the way of derision, then professions are blighted, and the hearts feelings are frozen or change into horror and perplexity. Peters profession ended in detail and disaster - ‘But he began to curse, and to swear, I know not this man of whom ye speak.’”
Although not documented, I can imagine that most follower of Jesus went through this same journey. Not of denying Jesus but in confusion of all He was doing. The works of God, at times, are a mystery.
The pain Peter must have experienced, not just because of his confusion, but mostly of his denying the Son of God. There was great sorrow, to the point of weeping. I often wonder if it was this point of deep pain that produced the deep commitment within him for the early church of Christ.
In a moment of confusion it is easy to find ourselves walking at a distance behind Jesus. When it’s not what we expected… When it doesn’t feel like we though it would…
We see a constant in our spiritual life that, like the disciples, we are constantly being forced to trust His voice over the plan. To trust His voice over our own expectations. To trust voice over our own notion. To trust Him when there is silence and it feels like momentarily, Jesus is weak.
God is always up to something GREAT, but from time to time we will not be privy to it all.
Think of it: While Jesus was beaten and bruised, His redemption plan for mankind was at work. While Jesus hung on the cross, God was working out His plan of Salvation. While there was silence, He was preparing the power of God’s presence to ascend upon us all. Let this Easter speak another message to us, that God is always up to something GOOD and something GREATER.
Even while God is at work in our lives, and in our world, we must come to terms that we will not be privy to it all. But know this and take heart:
“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55: 8-9
I can assure you; it will be everything you dreamed of, but just sometimes, it might not be how you expected it. His ways are higher. His thought are higher and He is always up to something GREATER.