I recently had the privilege of teaching some high school Bible classes. We talked a lot about worldview and absolute truth, and from there we went on a journey of Peter and discussed his personality, including how his shortcomings led to His strengths.
Anytime I speak or teach I like to mix things up with my own personal stories. Since I was talking to teenagers, I decided to travel back and pull out one of my least favorite memories from my adolescent years. Many of the students laughed hysterically. However, as I look back on this particular moment, I think of it as failing a test.
I decided to share this story because I was conveying to the class our responsibilities as living stones. We have the powerful ability to influence people with our actions.
When I was around the age of sixteen, my boyfriend, who is now my husband, took me skiing. He was a great skier and I… well, not so much. I liked to stay on the easy trails and after spending most of the time happily skiing the simple slopes, he was getting bored. He began communicating how he knew I was capable of skiing the black diamond run. I did NOT want to do it!
When my husband gets an idea in his head he can be relentless. As far as that’s concerned, nothing has changed since he was seventeen. He pulled out all the stops to convince me, and the next thing I knew I was riding a chairlift way up in the sky to the top of a mountain. And since we were night skiing, it was dark outside!
When we reached the top he gave me some instructions but fear got the best of me. And if I become overly afraid, I become angry. It’s not a quality I’m proud of possessing and when a person is sixteen, they usually don’t have a great time controlling these emotions that love to takeover.
I started down the hill, fell, rolled, was packed with snow, freezing cold, and mad as all get out! So of course out of maturity, I did the most sensible thing I could… I found my way to my feet and started to beat my boyfriend with my ski poles! (Thank God for layers, right?) I was screaming things like, “I trusted you!” and “I’m going to die up here!” He, being so patient as always, (another trait he has managed to keep over the years) just kept trying to softly calm me down.
And then came the really bad part…
I remember shouting that I wanted to ride the chairlift down the mountain when I heard a sweet little voice from a girl, who couldn’t have been more than eight years old, say, “You can’t ride the lift down, only up.” To which I promptly yelled back, “Shut up, little girl!”
I know, right?!?! Horrifying.
Yelling at a child is not, and never was, my personality. I had no idea I was capable of being so mean. Fear drove me to a place of anger and happily dropped me off in destination crazy town! If this moment was a test from God, then I failed. Big time!
I’m certain that no one who may have witnessed that out of control, angry, teenage girl would have considered her a living stone. And to this day, though it makes a funny story, I often pray for the child I yelled at. With one nasty sentence I’m sure I humiliated her, and even though there is no condemnation in Christ, I remember that moment to remind me of who I never want to be again – an overly angry person controlled by fear.
Fear, if allowed, becomes cancer. It infects us, causes anxiety, bitterness, and relationship struggles on every level. It destroys any hope of stillness.
I confessed this memory today only to communicate to you that to be still means letting go of fear that controls us and makes us who we were never meant to be.
We have a choice.
To be still in Christ means to put fear aside. “Do not fear” is a command stated to us in the Bible 365 times! That’s right, a reminder for every day of the year.
When Jesus looked upon Peter, he looked at him as not what he was, but who he was to become. That applies to us as well. However, we need to make proper choices along the way. Choose to let go of fear and allow yourself to experience stillness.
If you’ve missed any part of my October series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here and scroll down for links to previous posts.