Failing, Jail, and how it strengthens…



Serving your community certainly has it rewards. It takes you out of your regular routine, you get to show people that they matter, and the blessings are like boomerangs; you give out and it comes right back.

This was my experience this week. All week I was focused on work, writing, planning, shooting video, and praying. I didn’t look up from my computer much, my neglected son can attest! <insert VERY sad face here> I didn’t really want to take 2 hours out to do bible study for the women in jail, but I made the commitment because the word always has that sweet small whisper in my soul encouraging me.

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me,  I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matt 25:36-40 (NIV)

Please don’t take this post as a cheer for Kristin, that is certainly not my intent, I just want you also to be moved by scripture and experience richness like I am sharing with you here. For you serving may look different than going into jail for bible study, but it all has the same God glorifying, Kingdom building results.

So, Faith like Peter? The ladies and I looked at a study contained in a book called The 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole. I highly recommend this 40 day fasting devotional.  The study focused on Luke 22 where, Jesus tells Peter that “Satan asked to sift all of you like wheat.” Well, just like a scorpion must sting, the enemy must sift!

Lucky for Peter, Jesus assured him, “but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” The testing Peter was going to experience was if he was going to proclaim his allegiance to Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. Well, if you read through Luke 22 you will find out that Peter fails, miserably.

Peter’s failing crushed him. After denying knowing Jesus 3 times, he heard the cock crow, caught the eye of Jesus, and “ran away to cry bitterly.” I’m certain it wasn’t just a soft cry, it was probably one of those gut wrenching, doubled over, loud cries that begs to be washed clean of pain.

At this point Peter had 2 choices: To stay knocked down at his failure or get back up.

Jesus already knew these choices and gave Peter a preemptive encouragement, “and when you have turned again, strengthen your brother.” (32)  It’s easy to understand why Peter would just chose to stay defeated. Failing is hard. Betraying the love and faith you have holds shame and strengthens our natural pride. To get back up takes humility and a ton of trust.  

So what does this mean for us?

The enemy wants nothing more than for us to fail

This can come in so many forms. Through self induced actions like; addiction, anger, pride, laziness. Or through the acts of others; slander, judgment, neglect, physical/emotional attacks. Experiencing any of these examples, can knock us down hard and we can deny our faith. The enemy knows that minds are weak and the voices in our head can become so loud that it makes it difficult to get back up. The result? We become separated from God.

Jesus prays for us

How comforting thou, that Jesus prays for us to be strong in our faith. This is why we can join Peter and get back up time and time again. I can’t think of a better religion (Christian Faith) to be apart of where God, who created us, is our biggest cheerleader and advocate, knowing that we are His and He is ours.

Our story matters and can strengthen others

Jesus told Peter “when you turn again (get back up) go and strengthen your brothers.” Our faith strengthen experiences matter and we can use them to strengthen others. That is a great encouragement, that our suffering can be for our benefit as well as for the benefit of others.

Typical Female Jail dormitory. (Image found on the ADa county Sheriff’s office)

The Ladies in jail related deeply with Peter’s experience. Many of them who come to bible study knew Jesus at some point in their life and they deny him time and time again. On the outside, they tend to be “self-medicated” so they don’t feel the pain of their choices. But when they are in jail, they sober up and begin the difficult process of feeling. Like you, they hear the encouragement Jesus gave Peter, WHEN YOU GET BACK UP, STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS!  Jesus prays for them that their faith can be strengthened, I pray that as well.

What will you do with Peter’s faith strengthening experience? Take some time to reflect on your experiences and note how your faith has been strengthened. Then you can strengthen me & your fellow brothers by sharing your story.

For real, I would love to hear your story. I am a sucker for them, and I will drop everything to read your story. I would be honored if you replied with your story to this post for sure!

 

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