check the manual

I’ve kind of had One Of Those Weeks where Tuesday night I felt like it’s been a long week.  The kind where when my 17 month old was absolutely furious this morning when I made her wear a sweater AND PANTS when I felt it was chilly, I was just about ready to head back to bed.

I feel like when life gets to feel really hard, it’s a good time to check the manual. By which I of course mean the Bible. Sometimes I like to just randomly flip around and see what strikes me, and today I thought I’d jot a bit of that down since I wanted to commit it to my mind more. I find writing does that for me. I recently changed my facebook password to a text I wanted to keep in mind. Writing it out takes a bit longer than a more ‘normal’ password but it really does make me stop and think for a minute! As a result this post might be a bit disjointed and possibly not even make any sense, so feel free to skip it!

I’m using the New King James Version today, which I don’t always. Sometimes the slightly different wording in different versions make a text I’ve read hundreds of times stick out in a new way, though, and today was no exception.

Luke 22: 45-47 is part of the story of Jesus’ betrayal and death and reads, “When He rose up from prayer and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

I’ve often wondered how the disciples could fall asleep while waiting in the garden, but this wording makes me think differently; didn’t I just say how I was ready to head back to bed after dealing with Olivia being difficult? The disciples knew something was up, something big, and they were probably pretty stressed out about it. I can definitely relate with the desire to just go to sleep when overwhelmed with the sorrows and difficulties of life. Or even to just shut my brain off and go browse Pinterest or something for a while. Shutting things out doesn’t fix anything, though; instead, we must “Rise and pray.”

1 Corinthians 12 : 20-26 speaks about the church/congregation/believers in general and reads “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, on these we bestow greater honour; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honour to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

I don’t think its hard to figure out why this text always strikes a chord with me when I come across it. The Bible doesn’t talk much about things like equality, seems like, but here we see a text about how all members of the body of the church are important. A body is only as strong as it’s weakest part. We automatically give extra care and consideration to the more fragile or weak parts of our own body; we don’t say parts are useless and cut them off. How comforting! No matter how low we feel, we are important, even if we have a hard time seeing how sometimes.

In Galations 2: 11 reads “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed…” and in 14 and follows, we read Paul say, “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? …”

If we really stop and think about that for a minute, Paul ‘called Peter out’ in front of the congregation at Antioch, and not just that, but he also wrote about it in his letter to Galations which was then passed amongst the churches. How terrible Peter must have felt! But Paul didn’t do this out of spite or to shame Peter, he did it to correct him and those he’d led astray. Was Peter ‘kicked off the team’ for messing up? No. Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect; he came for the weak, the broken, and the failures. Which pretty much sums us all up, right there. The point of that text wasn’t “And Peter was totally humiliated;” Peter was wrong, Peter was corrected, and Peter, like all of us, was not perfect. He made mistakes. The mistake was corrected, and life went on. Were there people gossiping about what Peter had done or whether Paul should have dealt with things differently? No doubt, that’s human nature too. Is that the point, or even important then or now? Absolutely not.

So, did I flip through the Bible and find a text that said “Hey Laura, you’re doing everything just right,” or one that said “Hey Laura, you’ve veered off course a bit but here’s a list of the next ten things you should do”? Of course not, but I did find reassurance that to be human is to be weak and make mistakes, and fortunately nobody’s salvation is at all dependant on me being strong, or right, or even on me ‘staying awake’ all the time. Even the apostles got overwhelmed, fell asleep, and made mistakes – and some big ones that called for a little public correction and the sting that goes with that, even. I hope it doesn’t sound depressing; I feel very reassured.
Any pressure to be perfect and never stumble isn’t coming from God, He already knows how miserably I fall short. And thinking about Peter’s ‘public failure’ makes me feel better, too; if Peter, of all people, could look a bit ‘dumb’ in public, to the point where I’m reading about it still today, and still be considered a pillarstone of the church… then why do I worry sometimes about what I ‘look like’ to other people? Seems pretty petty and trite, all things considered.

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