A Work in Progress
Have you ever read a book and found yourself relating to a character? These past few years, I’ve been reading a detective series by C.J. Box, an author who lives in Wyoming. The main character in the series is a game warden for the Wyoming Division of Wildlife named Joe Pickett. He’s not a complicated man. In fact, he has this simple, methodical way of going about his responsibilities; a faithful and devoted employee, husband, father, and friend. Simple values. Straight-forward thinking. His loyalty runs deep and his sense of commitment often leads him into difficult situations. When most would give up or look the other way – letting sleeping dogs lie, so to speak – Mr. Pickett just can’t let things go. Honest to a fault, he won’t give up until the right thing is done and justice is served. His detractors often call him “Dudley Do-Right”.
I’m not saying I’m anything like the character, Joe Pickett, but I find him fascinating. I can often understand the moral dilemmas in which he finds himself. I can relate to the blunders, the thoughts, and the sense of commitment that drives him. I admire his simple faith and his devotion to family and friends.
One of the “characters” from the Bible that I find fascinating and relatable is Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus. Peter is boisterous, impulsive, outspoken, bold, and brash. He speaks from the hip and says what’s on his mind, often without thinking before speaking. Yet, when he sets his mind to something, he follows through.
Recently, I noticed something about Peter to which I think most of us can relate. Peter always seemed to be a work in progress. For sure, his faith grew stronger, he grew to know Jesus more and more, and it appears his impulsiveness and brashness tempered over the years. But he never quite arrived.
It all began when Jesus healed his mother-in-law (Luke 4). I’m sure Peter was wowed by the miracle. But there is no record of Peter’s response. In the next chapter, he finds Jesus preaching from the deck of his fishing boat when Jesus does another miracle. Though Peter had fished through the previous night without a single catch, Jesus told him to cast out his nets in deeper waters. Skeptical, Peter did so. What a successful fishing trip it was! So many fish were caught that the nets began to break. This time, Peter’s response is recorded. He falls at Jesus feet, begging Him to leave. Peter finally understood Jesus was more than a teacher and miracle worker. Jesus was God! And Peter, sinner that he was, wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of God.
Jesus, though, is patient with Peter. Jesus never gives up on him. As time goes on, Peter’s relationship and understanding grows deeper. In Matthew 16 we see that Peter grows to understand that Jesus is not only God, but the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. Later, in John 21, we learn that Peter is no longer afraid of being in the presence of Jesus. After another miraculous fish miracle, Peter jumps into the water and swims to Jesus, wanting desperately to be close to him.
Like I said, I can relate to Peter. I often focus on me; my failures, my sin, my brokeness. In my guilt and shame, there are times when I don’t feel I deserve to be in the presence of Jesus. But when I focus on Jesus – His compassion, His love, and His patience – where else would I rather be than with Jesus!
How grateful I am that I know our long-suffering, loving Lord and Savior. Like Peter, I am a work in progress! Perhaps you can relate . . .
Pastor Tim Lindeman