blind trust, communication, Compassion, competency, consistency, consistent, dependability, distrust, emotional and spiritual healing, Faith, family, Forgiveness, God, hope, learning and personal development, life, living in the Spirit, love, reliability, self-awareness for personal growth, spiritual abuse, Spiritual Growth, spiritual healing, spiritually mature, trust, truth

Trust, distrust and blind trust: rebuilding faith and hope

Over recent weeks, in my healing journey, I have been examining my relationship with trust. It first came to my attention when I looked at my business decisions, especially mistakes that I have made over the past 20 years. But, in recent days, I noticed a pattern emerge.

The beauty of recognising patterns of behaviour is that it opens the door for change and transformation. What I’ve noticed is a swinging pendulum in my life between distrust and blind trust. This pattern has cost me thousands of dollars, as well as relationships and creating heartbreak.

It is in seeing my actions and omissions accurately that the doors open.

The truth sets us free.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free, John 8:32

Let me provide you with some concrete examples: 

  1. In my early business days, I hired a friend to run one of my companies. Because I was overwhelmed and swamped with the growth in business and hiring new staff, I failed to supervise her properly. She was struggling in getting everything done, and I wasn’t available to support her. I didn’t ask how things were going, instead choosing to focus exclusively on my own overwhelm. Unfortunately, while she was getting the client work done, she wasn’t invoicing the client for it! By the time I realised the mess in accounts receivable and payable, the client had accrued some $40,000.00 in services they hadn’t paid for. Thankfully, the client eventually paid all outstanding invoices. But it took years to get fully up to date, and I bore the financial brunt of being caught between suppliers and financing a client. When I’m overwhelmed, I shut down, dissociate from the present, and turn to blind trust. 
  2. In March 2009, I left on holiday for three weeks to New Zealand. I chose the dates based on the weather (end of summer) and flight costs (cheaper because summer holidays were over and it wasn’t yet Easter). I was overwhelmed and exhausted after restructuring staff following the 2008 markets crash. Unfortunately, March 31st is the end of tax season – which meant that my company tax returns were prepared and presented in my absence. The company accountant and external accountants included a refundable expense in “income”, an extra $54,000 in ghost income! As a result, my income tax bill that year was $27,000.00 when it should have been less than $9,000.00. But, you prepay taxes for the next year, based on the estimates of what you paid the previous year! So, not only was I hit with the current tax bill, but my estimated taxes for the next year were identical, giving me a tax credit for years to come. My blind trust created a substantial financial pinch. 

I could provide you with many more examples in my professional life where I have distrusted, micro-managed and controlled every aspect of an employee’s performance, to those moments where I am overwhelmed and shut down, leading to no involvement or supervision at all.

Definitions

definition of trust, Oxford Languages, firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
definition of Trust

Trust = firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

distrust, feeling that someone or something cannot be relied upon, doubt the honest or reliability of, regard with suspicion, definitions from Oxford Languages
definition of Distrust

Distrust = the feeling that someone or something cannot be relied upon.

Blind faith or blind trust: “unquestioning belief in something, even when it’s unreasonable or wrong”. I take it to mean “trust in spite of evidence to the contrary” or blindly ignoring evidence that perhaps they are undeserving of your complete trust.

trauma, state of mind, overwhelmed, shut down, freeze, dissociation, present moment, avoidance, blind faith, trust, firm belief, distrust

How trauma informs our state of mind

Unfortunately, this pattern is not something I learned as an adult, and I’ve been using this pattern since early childhood. When I get overwhelmed, the easiest solution is to shut down and freeze, and this takes me into dissociation from the present moment and avoidance. In these cases, blind faith and trust in others become the only option, and I can’t trust myself. 

Hypervigilance at the other end of the pendulum presents itself as distrust, micro-managing every situation as I attempt to control the outcome. Of course, this is exhausting, making me angry (an emotion that I was taught not to acknowledge as a child) and frustrated. To avoid anger, I would rebound into dissociation and shut down.  

I never learned how to stay in the middle: in balance, calm and being alert. I struggle on so many levels with trust, and this shows up in my life on every level: 

  • personal 
  • interpersonal 
  • professional 
  • spiritual 

I could choose to sit in victimhood: “this is how I am, because of my childhood“. But I choose not to. I started to look at my patterns as generative learning – an opportunity to grow and change. And I share these learnings with you, because I want you to recognise that you have options and choices available to you.

As I have begun to experience inner peace, the wisdom of trust has become available.  

The human experiences that break trust, building distrust

Years ago, I denied being traumatised at boarding school because I wasn’t regularly beaten and abused. Anger and speaking up would earn you a beating, being labelled a Jezebel, or having a rebellious spirit.

I avoided beatings by being “a good girl”, knowing when to shut my mouth and swallowing any anger I felt. The survival skills I learned were to shut down, dissociate, and walk away. Unfortunately, those skills are not very resourceful and helpful in my life anymore.

There are many moments that I wish I were rebellious, angry & unruly. How I wish I had been the wild child that baulked the system and stood up against injustices, daring to question unfair authority. Instead, I chose the safety and security of apathy, withdrawal and indifference.
Unfortunately, as an adult, I still struggle with dealing with my anger, boundaries and injustice. As a lawyer, it’s easy to stand up for others. But I shrink instead of standing up for myself. I avoid confrontations of a personal nature, even when they would clear the air.

Through it all, I am entrenched in my independence. Of course, as I know now – hyper-independence is merely a symptom of trauma: unable to ask for help because I can’t trust others. Can I even trust myself?

Taught to obey Church leaders without question:

We had verses drummed into us, which in themselves were not wrong. But was the interpretation of these verses rightly applied?

Obey your leaders and submit to them, Hebrews, Romans, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God

Under no circumstances were we, children, to question those in authority because they were “appointed by God”. And if God wanted to remove them for wrongdoing, then it was merely our duty to “pray about it” rather than to do anything.

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment, Romans, Titus,

Even the hymns we sang reminded us that we were to “Trust and Obey” rather than stand up for ourselves or others. Helplessness was ingrained, and anything that was not as it “should be” was “God’s will”, and we were to endure it.

Biblical teachings: the human heart

But that wasn’t the only weapon in the arsenal of submission. In reading the below verses, repeatedly we heard: “The heart is deceitful above all things”. Divine Justice prevailing, to each according to their ways, patterns and actions received little mention. Instead, beatings were justified because our hearts were deceitful.

Those in power were above all of that.

The heart is deceitful above all things, devious & incurably sick.  But I - the Eternal One - probe the innermost heart & the innermost thoughts. I compensate & repay justly - how they really are, not how they pretend to be - to each according to their ways, patterns & actions, Jeremiah 17: 9-10

How can I trust myself if I believe that my heart is deceitful? What relationship or trust can I build with others if they are devious and incurably sick in their hearts?

If you question what I am telling you, you lack faith. Instead, you should “pray about it” and “trust God” to solve this for you.

If the prevalent attitude about human nature is one of sin and depravity, then there is no trust.

Maureen Murdock, “The Heroine’s Journey”

Divide and conquer has worked for centuries, both within the church and politics, and it’s as quickly at work today as it always has been. Even today, we hear who to distrust and then expected to place blind trust in authority.

But blind faith means that you have no ownership of your spiritual path or will. It relieves you of responsibility, creating victimhood. And victims are powerless, easy to manipulate.

I am so grateful for learning a new way: what it means to have a healthy trust.

trust, blind trust, distrust, integrity, benevolence, ability, competence, character, caring, credibility, reliability, intimacy, self-orientation, communication, compassion, caring, consistency, competency,
Trust

Trusting Divine Presence, trusting myself & trusting others

As much as I would like to say that my journey back to trust began with trusting Divine Presence in my life, that’s not the truth of my journey. My transformation started with an exploration of self-awareness for personal growth, and spiritual healing occurred after learning and personal development.

The first step back to trust was:

Know thyself.

In noticing my patterns of distrust and blind trust, I could explore what healthy trust means. Emotional and spiritual healing have come together as I worked with forgiveness of myself and others.

My trust in the Divine grows as I let go of my need to micro-manage and control every tiny detail. And in living in the Spirit, I trust my insight and intuition to build relationships with others.

What does it mean to trust me, others and Divine Presence?

Divine Presence, the elements of trust, apathy, withdrawal, dissociation, distrust, blind faith, blind trust, healthy trust

The elements of trust

Trust is not something we do from a place of apathy, withdrawal or dissociation. It is active and engaged: trust requires relaxed courage, curiosity, and calm presence. 

According to Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka, in their book mBraining, they identify the four elements of trust (learning to trust yourself):  

  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Consistency
  • Competency

Other authors and writers similarly identify the basic requirements of trust as: 

  • Competence
  • Character
  • Caring
  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Intimacy
  • Self-Orientation
  • Integrity
  • Benevolence
  • Ability

These authors point towards the same essential characteristics and requirements of trust. As difficult as it is, I have tried to group these together in a simple explanation:

Communication:

  • Is all about listening as well as sharing
  • As Covey says: “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood”
  • To build trust, it’s necessary to voice your wants, needs, desires and motives. It’s okay to have self-interest, but be open about what those interests are

“intimacy refers to your willingness to share appropriate information about the things that truly matter.”

Diana Gabriel, The 4 Components of Trust

Heart – Intimacy, Benevolence, Compassion & Caring:

  • Trust begins when we are open & transparent – even with ourselves
  • It is recognising my value and the value of others, leading to genuine empathy & understanding
  • Clear & heartfelt commitment to my personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of others
  • Only then can we build trusted relationships

Actions – Consistency & Character:

  • In order to build trust, there has to be congruence and alignment between what I say and do! This applies as much to promises I make to myself as what I promise others.
  • Predictable, reliable, & full of integrity
  • Loyalty, honour & duty
  • Respect and selfless service
  • Oriented to values and the vision – not just selfish interest
  • Clear set of principles, so you can be on the same wavelength
  • Can be counted upon

Ability – Competency & Credibility:

  • Mastery – skilled & knowledgeable
  • Has a domain of expertise and performs their functions well
  • Will speak up and give their point of view on the matter at hand from a point of knowledge
  • Stays current & up to date
  • Self-assured in their competence
  • Demonstrating progress towards goals


Emotional and spiritual healing: rebuilding trust 

When I look back at boarding school and these four qualities of trust, I find those in authority sorely lacking. If they had known better, they would have done better. But they lacked communication skills; they were authoritarian rather than compassionate. When I look at their actions, looking for consistency and character, I find them predictable, but I couldn’t count on them. They were not always congruent in what they said and did, as the rules did not apply equally to all. Perhaps worst of all, they were not skilled and knowledgeable, although they believed themselves to be.

We were left with an expectation of blind faith and trust in authority because the essential elements of a healthy trust were missing.

self-awareness, self awareness, building relationships, trust, authority, blind faith, qualities of trust, communication skills, compassion, consistency, character

Self-awareness

I now recognise that I have a proactive role in building relationships: I listen to the desires of my heart and trust my gut. I stay engaged and curious, rather than withdrawing. Instead of seeing myself as helpless and needing to be rescued, I recognise that I must play a part in building my future.

True faith is an inner alignment with yourself and with God. It’s a balance of trusting the universe to provide and doing your part to co-create with the Creator.

Jim Tolles “The problems with blind faith

Letting the Infinite flow in my life: rebuilding trust

The road back to faith, trust and hope is uneven and rocky. Sometimes, it’s the procession of three steps forward and two steps back as I fall into habitual patterns of blind trust or distrust.

I am learning to communicate and listen. As I consistently practise the presence of the Divine in my life, I hear the small, still voice of Spirit. It requires that I quiet my mind – that I sit in Silence and allow my heart to be still. It’s a daily practice in which my mastery builds up each day.

I have to choose to be open and transparent; it doesn’t happen naturally. There are times I want to shut down, and I have to make a conscious choice to be vulnerable and compassionate. When I commit to building relationships with myself, others, and the Divine, trusting relationships open up for me.

I sit in the Silence each morning to reconnect and refill my heart with the faithful love of Divine Presence, for I trust in Divine Love.
Each morning I listen to how I should walk and allow my Spirit to submit fully to Spirit

Ps. 143: 8

My understanding of what it means to rely on the Divine entirely has changed: it is no longer helplessness. I am not frozen in fear, unable to think logically or approach life with curiosity. I’m not keeping myself safe by being emotionally disengaged or apathetic. Instead, I am choosing to be fully present and connected.

From this place, I still choose trust, faith and hope.

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on the Divine completely;
never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
Give the Great Creator the credit for everything you accomplish,
trusting that Divine Love will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.

Prov. 3: 5-6

Other posts your might find interesting on Blind Faith:

Divine Presence, trust, distrust, blind faith, blind trust, rebuilding faith, hope

Sermon: Raising the Dead

Lectionary:

  • Luke 7: 11-17
  • 1 Kings 17: 8-24

I’d like to introduce you all this morning to a special artifact from our home that is of vital importance for dressing up as a fairy princess: the magic wand.

A couple of weeks ago, I helped little Miss Two dress up in a pretty dress, and put a little crown on her head, and this little wand in her hand.  She was parading round the house rather happily and looking at herself in the mirror, admiring her princess self when she exclaimed “Is broken”.

As any good mother, I asked what was broken, and was informed that her wand was broken “Is not working”, followed by the words any mother wants to hear about a magic wand “fix it mummy”.  Since she knows that broken cars are taken to a “car shop” to get fixed, she made mention of a”wand shop” in her request for fixing her broken wand.  Now, I don’t know how other mother’s do it, but we’re miles away from Diagon Alley, if I were even able to find platform 9 3/4, and there are no elves from the Little Kingdom that I can call on to fix the fairy wand, and I have no special abilities where expectations of what a magic wand is suppose to do are concerned.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still left wondering what was supposed to have happened when she waved her magic wand and what it failed to do.

Oh! to have the simple faith of a child that can believe anything is possible and doable!  Matthew 18:2-4 calls us to become like children,

“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 10: 14-15

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

So, today I want to deal with an issue that I struggle with in my Christian faith: are Christians able to raise the dead through faith? In fact, are we supposed to believe in signs and wonders, like healing the sick and making the blind to see?  Is there a place for raising the dead in today’s modern world or is it just relegated to fables and myths and Game of Thrones?  If it is beyond our ability and powers, how should we live our lives as Christians?  What should we learn from today’s readings that we can really take out into this world and be the salt of the earth?

I’ve spent the better part of a week reading various points of view on raising the dead. I’ve discovered groups such as a group of Evangelicals who call themselves the “Dead Raising Team”. I’ve read about Saint Patrick’s 33 cases of raising the dead in Ireland, in order to convince the many pagans of the day to convert.  What is amazing about Saint Patrick is that in 30 years he converted an entire island (Ireland) to Christianity, when previous missionaries had been unable to convert towns, and he gave all glory for this to God and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

But when it comes to raising the dead, as Christians, we’re skeptical.

As one writer put it:

“Levitating saints, sure. Weeping icons and statues, yep.  … The dying healed through the intercession of the saints, of course. The world is filled with miracles. …. We’re supernaturalists, but most of us live by the normal (supernatural) means of grace. We go through life in the usual and sometimes God disrupts things with a special benefit.”

While I would love to believe that we could all participate in the supernatural, my rational thinking gets in the way, and I’m left searching for practical and rational ways that I can transform this world.

Most of what I’ve read about Luke 7 speaks to Christ’s compassion for the widow who has lost her only son, in a society where she would have been left completely unprotected and without any rights.

How are we to react as Christ when we see those in need and hurting?  As Christians, we are called to have the same compassion for our fellow man. We are called to look beyond just what we can see, and commit to life-changing actions in the lives of others. But do you have the time, energy & commitment for that?

The principle of compassion is the very heart of Christ. The ministry of Jesus flowed from His heart of compassion toward those in need.  Compassion is a word of action. It is not observing from the sidelines; it is the heartfelt care for another with both the intent and action.  The compassion of Christ carries the notion of tenderness and affection.

The uniqueness of Jesus’ ministry rests in His concern for persons — He truly loves people and considers them worthy of respect and compassion because of what they are — bearers of the divine image of God.

John challenges us to look to the needs of others,

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (3:17-18).

Loving others is one of the many ways we put our faith into action.

“People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

So, how can we put this compassion into practice?  If we can’t do the supernatural, what can we do that will make life-changing differences?

I’d like to finish up with some practical examples of how we can help others to find new life and meaning, through compassion.
  1. Be considerate and present:  Practice having old-fashioned conversations (by that, I mean, without your phone), where you can give each person your full attention – use direct eye contact and keep your ears open to their needs.
  2. Do a body and feelings check regularly:  Check the motivation behind your words, actions and decisions. Always check in with your thoughts before they become words or actions to be sure your motivation is pure. If you catch yourself about to say or do something that isn’t coming from a place of integrity, or if it’s untrue, unkind, or unnecessary, think before you act. Every word and action generates a reaction. Be sure your ripple effect is positive and one that promotes a culture of compassion.
  3. Be affectionate:  Don’t forget the power of touch, especially for children, who thrive on feeling accepted as whole people. Give hugs and pats on the head or a squeeze of the hand.
  4. Communicate warmly:  Let your genuine interest in helping the other person show through heartfelt communication. You can make a world of difference by simply listening and talking in a warm, patient manner.
  5. Acknowledge people’s existence: Say good morning, good afternoon or hello to the people you walk past all the time – the concierge, the door man, the security guy, the homeless man that you prefer to ignore so he won’t ask you for cash, the elderly lady walking so slowly she’s slowing the pedestrian traffic. Get to know people.
  6. Practice acts of kindness:  Go out of your way to be kind.  Try  a 30-day kindness challenge.  Plan random acts of kindness – hold the door! (Put your arm around and comfort that Game of Thrones fan that just burst into tears, because I just said to hold the door!)
  7. Show empathy:  Empathy is showing that you understand another’s feelings or emotions; you identify with the situation and care enough to place yourself in another’s shoes. If someone is upset or acting unusual, consider why before you judge or get annoyed. There’s probably a backstory that would make you react differently. And when someone does share, you don’t have to have a perfect answer. You can just say, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.”
  8. Allow your heart to break:  Be aware of what’s going on around you. When you open your eyes to your world, you can often see more clearly where compassion is needed.  The world is full of what seem like intractable problems. Often we let that paralyze us. There are some people in the world that we can’t help, but there are so many more that we can. So when you see a mother and her children suffering in another part of the world, don’t look away. Look right at them. Let them break your heart, then let your empathy and your talents help you make a difference in the lives of others.  Be the difference you want to see in this world!
  9. Be an encouragement:  Be the person that holds others up, motivates them, brings them cheer. Instead of dwelling on everything people do wrong, use your voice to tell them what they are doing right and encourage them to continue working towards their goals.

Let us pray:

Creator God,
Give us compassion and humility in our hearts. Let us be kind, gentle, generous, loving, giving and forgiving wherever we may go. Allow pride to never get the best of us as You fulfill our dreams. Help us not to have a boastful tongue against our brothers. Let humility invade our souls.
In Jesus’ name. Amen

Learning from humble fishermen…

Peter, Peter, …

Lectionary Readings:

  • Acts 5:27-32

Childhood memories, especially childhood memories from beach-houses and idyllic holidays, are usually the best moments etched in our minds. Well, not all of them…

Our school year was the US one, not the Panamanian one – at odds with all my friends.   One of the benefits, was that whenever we’d spend our holiday at the beach, we’d have the beach completely to ourselves.  Us and the fishermen.

Our beach was fabulous, except for the occasional jellyfish  It was very unusual for us to get them still alive, but their dead bodies wash up on the shore regularly.  A little scientific research, and I found the following:

even detached tentacles from the jellyfish itself can still sting and cause you pain, irritation, allergic reaction etc. It’s important to understand that the nematocysts (stinging structures found in the tentacles) can remain very active long after the jellyfish is dead, as long as two weeks.[1]

I didn’t get a live one – I got a tentacle wound around a leg.  Initially it was just pain in my calf, then on the thigh where it had stung some more, then the realisation that the leg was going numb… By this stage, my beach holiday was miserable… The pain and the fear.

What do you do? Grab your child, stick them in the car, and run off to the ER – about a 20 to 30 minute drive away.  One problem: Mum & Dad didn’t HAVE a car.  We’d been dropped off at the beach, and were to be picked up at the end of the holiday.  No cell-phone.  No phone lines. No electricity. No taxis… Just us, the beach, and a few fishermen.

So off to the fisherman’s house we go!  He was home.  He had them sit me on a stool in his dining room, and then rubbed my leg down with some oil that he had sitting in a bottle on the shelf.   Apparently, though, that wasn’t enough – the poison had been in my leg for too long already and he was worried it was going to my heart.  So he pours a glass of this oil, for me to drink.  Cod Liver Oil. All of it.  Down.  Now.

Please God, NEVER AGAIN.

One day of rest, and it’s all back to normal!

Today, I’d like to talk to you about a Fisherman you’ve probably heard about a lot:  Peter.

We find him today before the Sanhedrin, questioned by the high priest:

28 We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” … “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God [that…] raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 … that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

The Peter that Jesus asked to follow him, this isn’t the same Peter we find standing before the Sanhedrin.

I can only imagine that Peter grew up in a home quite like that of the fisherman I visited.  No school. No cool electronics and gadgets. Nets mended and repaired over and over again.

And then Jesus shows up.  Peter had a choice. He left the world’s security behind him and chose to walk with Christ. … it’s a walk of faith. He left that boat, the net, the bankroll of fish and began a new fishing enterprise:   Peter and Co. Fishers of Men. “we catch ’em, God cleans ’em”

The Peter we know from the Bible was brash, bold, opinionated, emotional, volatile, quick to talk, and he made a ton of mistakes. We love him because there’s a lot of Peter in each of us. We know this Peter: he’s proud – so proud that he couldn’t possibly let Jesus wash his feet, he tells everyone what to do, he speaks and acts before he thinks, he chopped off the, and he even walked on water for a moment in true faith.   But inside, a fearful man.

And yet, Peter was to be the Rock on which the church was to be built.

We may envy the closeness he had with God: That special relationship with God; that constant communication with Him.  Like many of the other “heros” we find in the Bible:  I envy what they could accomplish for God. It was amazing how God can take these weak and imperfect individuals and do such amazing things through them that they could so greatly impact people. Unswerving faith. They trusted God when it didn’t make sense, when it wasn’t popular and when things were not going their way. They are legends that we are talking about thousands of years later because of the kind of faith that they had: “That’s the type of person that I want to be” or “that is the type of faith that I would like to have.”

Peter, this is the man:

  • When Jesus was on the mountain and was transfigured with Moses and Elijah it was Peter who wanted to stay and build shelters for all three of them.
  • When Jesus asks: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”, and then followed by the questions: “But what about you, Who do you say I am?” Peter is the only one to respond: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • When Jesus told Peter he was going to be killed it was Peter who said he would die with him. It was Peter who assured Jesus that even if everyone else denied him he wouldn’t.
  • It was Peter who drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear as the soldiers came to arrest Jesus.

Peter’s greatest desire was to be with Jesus – we see this when he walks on water:

  • The disciples are out to sea and there is a great storm around them. These experienced fishermen, they were afraid. Jesus walks out on the water towards them. Peter speaks up and says, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter wanted to get to Jesus. And yet, even when Peter stepped out of the boat, and he became afraid because of the wind, taking his eyes off of Jesus and sinking. He cried out some of the most amazing words in the entire Bible: “Lord, save me”. Three simple words so packed with meaning.

When Jesus asks if the disciples will turn their backs on him, it’s Peter that responds:   “to whom shall we go, you alone have the words of eternal life, we believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Then we see Peter, at the height of Jesus’ popularity and triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Celebrating and happy that HE is on the side of the Messiah.

I can just imagine him:  “Yeah, I’m one of his disciples.  You know, I’ve known him probably the longest out of all of us.  And I’ve got an inside track with him, ‘cos I’m important, you know.  I was picked to be one of the elite, of this special force that’s with him.”  Chest puffed out.

And so, imagine Peter’s complete confusion when Jesus, somehow, before his eyes, changes.  Jesus starts to talk about death.  And how salvation isn’t going to be war or rebellion.  There’s not going to be any glory in battle.   He’s going to go to the cross.

The same Peter that sworn that he would never turn his back on Jesus and that he would follow him to the death – suddenly he doesn’t recognise Jesus any more.  This isn’t what I signed up for – we’ve supposed to triumph – we’ll be famous.  What on EARTH are you talking about?   How is your death supposed to help our cause?

And so we find Peter, doing exactly as Jesus told him that he would: denying him three times. After Jesus was handed over to the Pharisees and the Romans, Peter stuck around to watch. Three times he was recognized as one of Jesus’ disciples, and three times Peter denied it, even cursing the name of Jesus.

And then Jesus looked into his eyes.  I can’t imagine the pain of the moment: because I’m sure that in Christ’s look there was no accusation.  Not even pity.  It would have been a look of love “it’s okay, I understand, and I forgive you”.  Not I told you so.

All his bravado and declarations, gone.  On the most important night of his life—on the most important night in history—Peter, “the Rock,” sat alone in a dark corner weeping. This wasn’t common place for him. He was a strong self-reliant fisherman. He was bold! He was courageous! And now, he was completely undone. The Rock had been shattered.

And it’s only upon that shattered Rock that Jesus can build the church.  Peter needed to stop trusting in the physical, in his strength, in his motivation, in his way of seeing the world, and accept that there was another way.  Peter had human courage, but he lacked spiritual courage.  He was brave, but only as far as he had control of the situation.

Every single day we make choices that show whether we are courageous or cowardly. We choose between the right thing and the convenient thing, sticking to a conviction or caving in for the sake of comfort, greed or approval. We choose to believe in God and trust him, even when we do not always understand his ways, or to second-guess him and try to do it on human strength.

When we’ve been broken and then revived by the Holy Spirit, we will follow in spite of the masses; we’ll be faithful in spite of public opinion; powerful in spite of the lukewarm standards.

That’s the Peter we find standing before the Sanhedrin.  The one that has been purified by the fire of trials and knows what he really looks like on the inside – has thrown “himself” away and allowed himself to be filled by the Holy Spirit.

Most of us are like the Buddhist scholar that comes to see the Zen Master.  An expert: we talk about our extensive doctrinal backgrounds and how much we’ve studied and learned.  And the master listens patiently and makes tea. When it’s ready, he pours it into the scholar’s cup, until it’s overflowing and runs over the floor. 

The scholar jumps up, crying “Stop, stop! The cup is full: you can’t get any more in.” 

And the master replied: “You are like this cup: you are full of your own ideas of the way.  You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is already full.  I can’t put anything in it. Before I can teach you, you have to empty your cup.” 

If we want to be filled with the Spirit of God, and let like Peter, we need to allow Jesus to shatter the rock of our own illusions of grandeur.