Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Satan sifting Simon

As I was journaling this morning, I could not help but think of the many of you for whom the last years have been unbearably painful. You have sought to be strong, courageous, tenacious, even tried to be patient.

We have wrestled through the stories of Joseph to find strength and a model to imitate. As a father, I would love to have found a way to get you out of your terror, but that is not to be.

As I was reading through Luke this morning, I read: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31 - 32.

In the many solutions on offer out here in the cyber world, so little is offering the muscle of warfare. The Reformed camp speak very little of spiritual war fare. There is more of this conversation in the "Kingdom now" camp.

What if you are center stage in the sifting conflict right now? What if Jesus is crying out right now for you at the right hand of the Father? What if Satan has designated you for sifting separation? You are in his radar and have to fight your way out!

For me sifting speaks of separation, the large from the small, the good from the bad, the strong from the weak, the true from the false. It is throwing to the wind all that is in the basket to see what comes down as true and valuable. Satan knows the hour in vulnerable. He knows that the sanity and safety of Jesus' presence in actuality is about to change. He is about to leave and the disciples are all going to need to grow up - become apostles in their own right. In this vulnerability is their change of role, increase of responsibility and profile, Satan is keen to see what is fully and truly there. He already had Judas in his pocket - now he goes for the big gun. If he could get these two - two of twelve, he has pretty much erased Jesus' life's work. Isn't that what you feel - lifetime work is being challenged?

Jesus does not stop Satan. That is amazing. It is like Jesus trusts the investment in Peter's life. Jesus is comfortable with the wobble, the denial, the walking away for awhile. The journey to process from defeat to strength, is part of the Jesus story in our lives. Jesus simply prays. It is time for Peter to step up. I do not believe in apostolic succession, so I am not sure why Peter is specifically targeted. But, I am not sure it matters. You have been targeted and that is what matters.

Be encouraged. Here is Jesus' simple pronouncement:
  • I have prayed for you - Jesus could have intervened, but for a greater cause, and a higher moment, Peter has to go through this moment,
  • Your faith may not fail you - the gift the word of faith movement gave to the church was the resurgence of faith... we simply cannot 'hide' behind his sovereignty by not activating our faith - this one we have to win... in the power of the Spirit, by faith, through grace,
  • When you have turned again - I am so amazed at grace... Jesus knows of Peter's stumbles... even though he had walked with Jesus for 3 years. Had seen many miracles and personal moments, even as a leader / apostle, he will stumble, and grace will be there to pick him up. Jesus can cope with our foibles... but can we?
  • Strengthen your brothers - that is what this is all about! Defeating the enemy to regain a growing faith that we can lead others. There is little like a the pain of failure to soften the heart of a legalist to love and strengthen the weak on their Jesus journey.
I am so sorry that you are hurting... even if it is because of your own foolishness. But, come back and strengthen the weak. They need you now.

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