Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Broken Bread and Poured-Out Wine

"Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." ~Luke 22:31-32

He told Peter that Satan had asked for him. He said he wanted to sift him; to try his faith and make him waver. In fact, he wanted to sift them all, but it was to Peter that He offered comfort. However, it wasn't the comfort Peter may have anticipated. He offered the hard kind of comfort. The comfort that isn't visible until the folding back of time and the looking through eyes that see the end from the beginning.

Jesus knew the outcome. Jesus knew Peter's heart. He knew this one was a rock, and He trusted this friend of His. Peter indeed would be sifted because the Father would allow it, and not even the angels could prevent it. But even in this- even in the sifting and the testing, Jesus lived to intercede. "But I have prayed for you." And what other comfort is there?

Do I need deliverance from the fire if Jesus has already prayed me through the flames? The Beloved Son- He gets what He wants! He makes His requests to the Father, and the Father hears His every word. "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail."

He didn't pray that Peter would not fail. Peter had already failed and Peter would fail again. And again. He was just a man after all. No, He prayed that Peter's faith should not fail. To look away from the Strong Man is to feel the depths of raging storm and waves.  

What does this do to a fearful, failing, flailing follower? Sinking, and stumbling, saying what you shouldn't say, and thinking what you shouldn't think. It leaves a man broken, beaten, and defeated. But maybe it's through the failure of a weak and weary follower that we see the power and faithfulness of an ever-present God. In the midst of deep water, we experience the salvation of those arms; arms that are not shortened. Arms that can save even to the uttermost.  Peter came to understand what Jesus does with such a man.

That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 1:7

And Peter came to know the danger of the devouring enemy; an enemy that seeks to destroy. An enemy that asks for us by name, and accuses us night and day.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. ~1 Peter 5:8-10

And who doesn't want to be perfected, established, strengthened, and settled? Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. I'd add to that- everyone wants to be holy but no one wants to experience the refining process. Just as gold must be immersed in harsh chemicals and put through extreme temperatures in order to remove all its impurities , we too must face difficulties and trials because it is the testing of our faith that produces patience. And when patience has its perfect work in us, it produces perfection and completeness, that we may lack nothing.  (James 1:3-4)

"But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

Is there ever reason to doubt the purpose behind the sifting? Satan asks permission and our Protector either grants him a short leash or all together refuses his request. In the end, when the impurities are expelled, and the surface reflects the Son, will we strengthen our brethren? Because every temptation is common among men. When we've been through the sifting, we will find that  "…He may make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed others." We become the one our sister needs for holding up weary hands while the battle rages on in bloody uncertainty.

So beloved sister, don’t think it's strange that you are being tried in this fiery furnace. Don't look at it as some strange thing that is happening to you and you alone. Rather, rejoice! Rejoice that He gave Satan that short leash and remember that leash is never longer than His strong arm. Delight in the knowledge that He sees fit to immerse you into the depths of pain, uncertainty, and doubt. Not because you are able, and He only gives you what you are capable of enduring. No, delight that you, the one weak and incapable, will be strengthened by the One who is adequately sufficient to supply all your need. Because when the temperatures reach their peak, you, yes you, shall come out as gold.

…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…   ~Hebrews 5:8-9

And while you are being made perfect, and your faith is growing ever stronger, because He lives to plead on your behalf, you may not even be aware of the outward change that is occurring. And the reflection of His Glorious Son shall shine as bright as the stars making some coward in your presence- because His presence has taken up residency. Don't cover it up as Moses did. Let the sifter sift, the impurities recede, and the Sufficient One satisfy your holy need.

Should the Lord say to our enemy… "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." …will we trust our Protector's perfect plan?

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mind.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
~Isaiah 43:1-2

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