Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Hope for flakes

ONE OF MY favorite lines in Anne Lamott’s pleasing, latest book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, is the observation that “the good news is that God has such low standards.” That sums up the invitation of the gospel about as well as any five words can.

But that’s the start, not the end, of course. God welcomes the fallen and broken (and, note, that’s all of us) into His family because—like the sculptor who can envisage the beautiful statue in that chunky block of stone—He sees beyond what we are to what we were meant to be.

The process of turning a slab of marble into a work of art involves a lot of chipping away and smoothing out. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes those bits and dust can get in our eyes, clouding our ability to see the progress that is being made as we are turned from “one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Maybe you find yourself at a place like that in your transformation, when you’ve stumbled yet again with that same old issue. You wonder if maybe God’s about to give up on you and find someone else to work on instead. If so, take some encouragement from one of the apostles, in Luke 22.

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells His disciples about all that’s coming down in the hours ahead, warning the one with the biggest mouth: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (v. 31).

But, Jesus goes on, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (v. 32). In other words, Jesus knows that this guy is going to flake out, but He also wants him to know this won’t disqualify him.

Maybe with a puffed-out chest, Simon insists he’ll stick with Jesus to the end, come what may. But Jesus says no, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (v. 34).

Note from my italicizing how Jesus delivers this news—by addressing the one who will most publicly fail him not by his old name, but by the new one He had given ol’ Simon.

Remember that when Simon had earlier declared Jesus to be the Son of God, Jesus had responded, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18).

Even as Peter was about to fail Him, Jesus didn’t see a flaky man but a man of faith, the rock on which He would build His church. He saw beyond what Peter was to what he would become—and He still does the same with us.

Photo: Unitas Project

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