The Best Laid Plans…..
There is moment in the Gospel story that is very startling. It is when the disciples finally realize and confess that Jesus is the Messiah. In this moment, the disciples are rejoicing, proud of what they have learned, eagerly anticipating what the future holds. They are part of something that will be special and change the world. The conversation continues with “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Matt 16:21). The very next verse is when we see Peter confronting Jesus, boldly telling him it will never be like that and Jesus’ stern rebuke letting Peter and the disciples know that it must be this way – for Jesus and them – if they are to be his disciples.
In this confrontation between Peter and Jesus we learn a lot about following Jesus. We learn about carrying our own crosses, losing our lives, fist will be last and last will be first etc… But what might be the most important lesson of all is that as we follow Jesus, often we need to let go of our own expectations of how our relationship with God will unfold. We tend to bring a lot of assumptions into this relationship. Ideas, desires, plans, dreams, stereotypes, thoughts, and beliefs can fill our minds concerning who God is and how God should treat us. We gather these preconceived notions from our own desires as well as receive them from the world and people around us. It is in clinging to some of these assumptions about God where we tend to find the greatest disappointments in life.
Peter and the disciples had great dreams. Once they realized who Jesus really was it filled them with awe and wonder. But in the very same moment they were confronted with the Truth from Jesus. What Jesus needed to do collided with what they desired from him. In that collision the disciples needed to give up one dream for another. To place their trust solely in Jesus and allow God’s plan to unfold. A plan that involved suffering, humiliation, pain, and rejection. A plan filled with scary moments and big risks. A plan that they could not possibly understand but simply had to believe that God knows what God is doing. Sometimes I wonder “how often are we in the very same position as those first disciples?” Placed in a position where we simply need to trust, not knowing the “why?” or the “how comes?” In these moments we can learn from the disciples – clinging on to our faith in God for there really is no better alternative. This is what builds our Faith.