Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At a Distance
24 Aug 2009
Karen Ehman

"But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome." Matthew 26:58 (NIV).

I sat in the sanctuary all alone, hot tears trickling down my young face. As a high school senior, I often attended our church's open door, self-serve communion time that was held a few days each year. The church was left unlocked providing a place to be alone with God: to pray or read your Bible. Then, at the altar were the elements. When ready, believers spent time meditating before partaking of the bread and the cup. Although I had done this many times, that night would forever be seared in my mind.I'd been a follower of Christ for just over a year, having first dedicated my life to H im at a youth retreat. The next 12 months, though an exciting time of growth, were also one of sorrow. I lost friends. I no longer fit in with the "in" crowd. I had no desire to attend certain parties I knew God wouldn't approve of or engage in conversations I wouldn't want Him to hear.So I clung to my crisp, new Bible and rushed home each afternoon, eager to read more while making notations in the margins. My youth group, as well as my mentor, a stay-at-home mom of two, became my lifelines. I desperately wanted to know how to live this new Christian life and live it in a way that made Jesus proud.But as I sat there that night, I felt as if I had failed God. There was a new group of kids at school who, when the more popular kids shut me out, had taken me in. But things were beginning to get sticky. I was challenged at many points in my faith; was asked questions by those who felt God didn't exist and were very eloquent in arguing their case. So normally chatty me, oft en became silent. There were times I knew I should say something, but I remained painfully wordless instead. My silence spoke volumes, and in a way, denied Christ.It was then that, alone in my church, crying and searching my soul, I read today's key verse. The words stung. "But Peter followed him at a distance…" That was me! I followed my sweet Jesus, but often at a distance; not wanting to get too close; to be lumped in with the Bible-thumping fanatics; to be labeled a "Jesus Freak." That night was a wake-up call. I didn't want to lurk in the shadows any longer. I wanted to be so closely associated with Jesus that I cared not what any soul on earth thought. I left with a renewed commitment to this goal.God, in His mercy, allowed me to come across many more verses about Peter in the next few weeks as I flung myself on my bed and flung open my Bible each afternoon after school. I witnessed his three-time denial. Then, I saw his sorrow; his repentance; h is eventual boldness for Christ. I garnered encouragement from knowing that his once hesitant, in-the-shadows disciple became a bold, world-changing servant of God. And, just weeks later, our youth group took a personality test that matches you with a biblical character and my result came back as—you guessed it—Peter! I knew then that if he could learn to follow boldly, then I could too.

Oh may God help us all to turn our fear of association into boldness for His kingdom! The world is waiting and watching.

Will we pursue Him closely or follow at a distance?

Dear Lord, may I not shirk from associating myself closely with You for all the world to see. I want to reflect You; not reject You. Please grant me the courage to do so. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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