Regret and Praise

It had been a horrible day. I can’t remember what I was after or what was going on, but somehow, for some reason, my mom and I were fighting. She was a master of the stubborn and quiet manipulation of an argument. She could turn silence into a formidable weapon.

And this time, she was at her finest. Her eyes were glazed over. Her expression was resolute. She wasn’t going to give me anything.

My 20-year-old self shouted and got in her face. I was livid. The lump in my stomach consumed me. It needed some sick satisfaction. I wanted her to give in. I didn’t want to.

I began to lecture her about how immature she was being for giving me the silent treatment. I called her stupid.

She didn’t budge.

She was a stone… and I admired and hated her skill. But I wanted to win.

I had to break her down. My adrenaline was running so high. So I threw out that word that no son should say to his mother. I dropped the bomb and walked out the door.

I drove off to pick up my girlfriend. I was shaking. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. The shame was overwhelming. And I had the next 15 minutes to stew about it and figure out some way to tell my best friend what I had done.

As I pulled in, Jenn was outside of her house waiting for me. She looked anxious. She came right to the car, got in, and told me we had to go back to my house.

My mom wasn’t giving me the silent treatment, she was having a stroke.

______________________________

This would be the last time my mother and I conversed.

______________________________

Simon Peter found himself reeling as he attempted to warm his shaking hands. Only hours ago, he had pledged his undying loyalty to his teacher, his Lord… this Jesus, only to get back a reply about him not even making it through the night without betraying him.

Then, to throw him even more, Jesus had told him and the others this very confusing statement about selling what you have to buy a sword and be ready and… and it didn’t make sense. These people came, with torches and swords to take his Lord. What was he to do but fight?

Jesus was an innocent man. They had no right to hurt him. So he did what any good man would do. He drew his sword and lashed out, only to be rebuked. To add humiliation, Christ not only scolded him, right there in front of everyone, he healed the wound of the man he had struck.

None of this made sense.

Christ told him that on him, Simon Peter, the rock, the Church would be built. And now, this so called Messiah was across the way, being mocked, spit on, and otherwise humiliated.

Peter turned away, wincing in his perplexity and embarrassment.

“Hey you.” A servant girl called out to him. “Weren’t you with him? Hey everyone! This man was with him too!”

His adrenaline was high, and he reeled at this surprise, “No… no, not me woman!” He stumbled over his words. “I… I don’t even know the man!” He wished he could just disappear, but all eyes in this dark yard were turning his way.

A man made his way around the fire to try and see him in a better light. “Yes,” he exclaimed with wide eyes, looking at those around him, “this man was one of them!”

“Listen, man!” He said with more resolve this time. “I AM NOT!”

Another young man joined in, “Yes, he is a Galilean too. Certainly he was with him.”

Peter’s intensity was at it’s peak. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!” His words echoed throughout the dark and flickering courtyard like a gunshot, and they clashed with the dissonant sounds of the piercing call of a rooster.

He felt the gaze of his Lord, and their eyes met.

Simon, called Peter, ran from the place and wept bitterly.

Fear flooded him. What had he done? He knew that this may be the last time he would see his Lord.

_______________________________________

I spent a good month in the ICU by my mother’s side at 1 and 2 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep. I would weep and sob next to her, begging her and God to forgive me. I wanted someone to make it okay. She was hardly in her skin. Her eyes didn’t open for over a month.

When they did finally open, I could barely look at them. I was a disgrace of a son. I honestly can’t say that any one thing in my life has impacted me as much as that day.

This sting went deep, and now and then it rises up, showing its scar to remind me.
We all know that dear Peter’s heart would find relief, at least to a small degree a few days later, gazing into that empty tomb. But I’m willing to wager that it was far harder for him to look into the eyes of our sweet Savior than it was for me to gaze into my mother’s.

Mom had beautiful hazel eyes, and such a wonderful smile.

Eventually, over the 9 months that followed that incident, she would begin to learn to talk, and try and walk again. She also very quietly was working out something with God, making peace you might say.

One Friday, I came to pick up my dad. He spent every day with her. From around 7 or 8 in the morning to 5 or 6 at night, he was at her side. I walked into the room, and I swear to you, she was glowing.

I told her that I would not be able to come in the next day to see her, but I planned on spending all day with her on Sunday.

I also kissed her on the head and told her that I loved her.

She whispered sweetly that it was okay, and that she loved me too. Three hours later she ran ahead of us to the other side of the veil.

These may seem sort of random to put together, but to me they’re bound in my heart. The sting of regret and the eyes of love make for the Father’s glory. Life together, as the body of Christ is little instances like these, every day, building the church with good and solid material.

Christ knew Peter, and knew what he would do. Peter would not have been the man he was without the sting of his betrayal burning in him for the rest of his life.

But don’t mistake this regret; it is not a guilt ridden self-pity. This regret is a tool of the loving Father to show us how very deep his unending love is. It is to be held tightly to remind us that our Father is amazing and merciful. He is a good dad, a very good dad, and loves to have us near Him.

So I say all of this to say that I’m grateful. I honestly can say that I would not want to change one bit of what I’ve done and where I’ve been. That’s not to say that I don’t wince at it, but I praise God for it. He let me do it, and go through it so that I’d know him better. He redeems it all when our hearts are toward Him. And I can’t wait to see what else he has in store.

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