“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” V.52 (NLT)
“Put Away Your Sword, Peter!”
Those were the exact words I heard at 5:30 in the morning one day last week. I was lying in bed, talking to the Father. I had not been awake for more than five minutes when these words echoed in my mind, in the midst of my conversation with God. Like the impertinent friend of Luke 11, I was bringing my heart’s desire back before the throne, together with a list of perfectly reasonable explanations as to why God should make it happen. NOW.
As I lay there, shocked and half asleep, the meaning of the reprimand became clear. Just as Peter in his hastiness (and love for the Savior) tried to take matters into his own hands and stop Jesus’ persecutors; I once again picked up my sword and engaged into battle, uninvited.
A sanguine like Peter, I understand him too well. You see, when I sift my heart’s desire through the grid of God’s glory and my good, it fits perfectly. Just as it seemed so timely and honorable for Peter to defend His Master from those Romans, it seems fitting to me to ask God to fulfill this dream; after all, He was the One who placed it in my heart. The problem with my attitude is that I often forget that God designed the Master Plan and only chose to reveal it to me one step at a time. But because He has given me enough vision to set my heart on fire, I have a hard time standing still. Waiting is certainly not this girl’s forte.
If there ever was something excruciatingly hard for me to do in life, that thing is to wait. My tendency is to somehow put my hands in the dough and “help” God accomplish His plan for my life. We must remember not be too hard on characters such as Peter and I, though – this is not an altogether bad trait. God certainly uses passionate, go-getters like us to accomplish His plan. As a matter of fact, I don’t think for a minute that Jesus was blaming Peter for drawing the sword; but for doing so at the wrong time. The time had come for Jesus to suffer and die. The sword of the Lord was drawn against Him (Zec 13:7). Peter’s heart, the Lord knew, as scared as it later became, was filled with passion for his Savior. Jesus saw beyond that and mercifully reminded Peter of His sovereignty: “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?” (v.53)
Yes, indeed we need to be reminded that God has no need of us or our services to accomplish His purposes. Moreover, picking up the sword at the wrong time and uninvited may be a revelation of a flaw in our faith in Christ: That we think unless we do something, His plan will not be accomplished. When we take matters into our own hands, working hard at manipulating circumstances without consulting the Lord, our attitude is clear to Him: He sees that our disposition reflects more than mere impatience. It reveals that our faith needs maturing and strength.
My Limited Point of View
“Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now” V.53-54
As worthy as Peter’s willingness to defend the Savior was, his impulse went against God’s will to fulfill His prophetic redemptive plan for mankind. Jesus was born into this world to die for our sins and He knew His time had come. Nothing would stop Him from accomplishing His Father’s will.
I wonder how many times we miss God’s best in life because we step ahead of Him. We sometimes pray for something for a long, long time – a dream or need. Then one day we wake up deciding that we have prayed for long enough. That’s when we pick up the sword and engage into battle, untimely, often just before God comes through with the answer to our prayers. I’m the first to confess my tendency to do so. Thinking of the scene in Gethsemane simply makes me realize how much my hastiness could cost: Ultimately, the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan for my life.
Fighting a Spiritual Battle with A Carnal Weapon
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)
Peter picked up the sword. You may pick up the phone. Moses doubted and had to spend 40 years in the desert learning to let God fight his battles. We pick up our swords and open up doors forcefully and time and again find ourselves failing because we will not wait. Indeed, we have a lot in common with these giants of faith. We often try to win spiritual battles with carnal weapons. We need to remind ourselves that we fight Satan, not flesh and blood. The weapons we must use are spiritual, not fleshly (2 Cor 10:3-5). Nothing would have pleased Satan more than to have stopped Jesus from going to that dreadful cross. Just as he would be thrilled if he could prevent us from receiving God’s best in life. Thus something basic but so truly essential to victory must be practiced by His Saints – as Dr. Charles Stanley often tells our congregation: “We must fight our battles on our knees”. Prayer and praise are the only language Heaven understands.
Thank God that His grace reaches beyond our faulty attitudes. He sees our inadequacy and looks past them and into our hearts. He knows it when we fail, not because of lack of love for Him, but because of spiritual immaturity. He then gently nudges us in the right direction. And hopefully, we learn, lest we wander in the wilderness for years before reaching our Promise Land.
This year, Good Friday reminds me of more than the marvelous sacrifice that Jesus made for me. It reminds me to be totally, utterly surrendered to His perfect plan and His timing. It reminds me that, had Peter seen past the cross, he would not ever have drawn his sword. It reminds me that, if I could only see what God has in store for me, right past the Valley of Wait, I would certainly tie my hands up and be still. E.v.e.r.y. T.i.m.e..
His will for me, at this point, is to let HIM do what only He can do. There certainly may be a time where He will ask me to pick up the sword. But at this time, should I draw it, I may just end up jeopardizing His (beautiful and perfect) Master Plan. When looking at it that way, I realize: Yep! I can certainly wait.
What about you? Is it time for you to put away your sword? If so, I pray you hear the Master saying:
“There is life everlasting beyond that cross, Child. And you do not want to miss it. No, you don’t.”
Happy Easter to All My readers! He is RISEN! He is risen indeed!