I teach an adult scripture class and the crucifixion is the subject of our next lesson. Not an easy thing to ponder; however, my point is Peter's vehement claim that he would NEVER deny his Master, much less do it three times. Within a few short hours, much to his horror, he did just that.
As a Christian, I believe in a God who knows all. He knows what we will do before we do it. Therefore, some may ask, What is the point? Why are we even here if our fate is already sealed? Well, God does know our outcome, but the point is - we don't. We are here to figure it out. In a sense we are here to get to know ourselves. We learn of our weaknesses and we learn our strengths. Peter THOUGHT he knew himself. He honestly THOUGHT he was stronger than he was. He learned a bitter yet valuable lesson. He learned he needed more strength. He overcame and stepped up to become a powerful prophet of God.
I, like Peter, thought I knew myself pretty well. I thought I knew my weaknesses and my strengths. But I've learned these past couple of years, that there's a lot yet to discover. And much of it I won't know until I'm tested. Again, like Peter.
One of the ways to learn about yourself is to attempt something hard. Something outside the old Comfort Zone. You may fail ... but you may not. And as my favorite YouTube video says, “If you never try, you'll never know”.
Running has taught me that I CAN do things I never knew I could do. I have strengths I didn’t know I had. I can run with people who are much younger and stronger than I am. I can organized a large athletic event. I can finish a marathon. I can run five miles at 3:00 a.m. on three hours sleep. I can be a team captain. I can put up and take down a tent by myself. I can toil and camp in heat, wind, and grit without my shampoo and a shower. I can climb to the top of a climbing wall AND to the top of a volcano. I can do a triathlon ... well, okay, with a lot of liberties in the swimming portion since I don't swim. I can sleep in a spider-infested tent .... after the spiders are gone .... but did we get them ALL? Most of this has happened since I started running nearly three years ago. This may not sound like much to some of you, but I’m not measuring myself against anyone but me. The me I used to be. And remember, I am not in my 20s or 30s (or even my 40s!) anymore.
I used to be the spectator or the support vehicle driver. Never wanting to try or get dirty or wet. (I still don't!) Never wanting to fail and look stupid. (I still don’t!) Hence I never really knew myself nor what I could do. I didn't even know what my fears WERE, much less if I could overcome them! That marathon was SO frightening! I didn't want to do it. It took a long time to beef up my courage to register and then face six months of strict training with my Day of Reckoning looming closer and closer. And not only did I fear the 26 miles .... I feared the 22 miles, the 20 miles, the 18, the 17, the 16, the 14, etc., that punctuated my winter and spring every couple of weeks.
Doing hard and scary things builds confidence for the next hard and scary thing. With each success, we are empowered to try a few more "miles". That empowerment changes who we are. With each failure we can learn, as Peter did, to fight through the remorse, make whatever changes are needed, and try again. Peter reached his potential and though I would never compare sports or tent assembly to what HE became, it's still growth from challenges .... from doing what we’re afraid to do, and learning a little more about the process of becoming what God knows we can become.