“Lord, don’t leave me the same.”
I heard this little prayer the other day and I was so moved by its profound simplicity. As soon as I heard those words I thought, “This is my prayer.” When I was reflecting on these words, the thought of going the rest of my life the same as I am today, was really sad to me. I think it would be my biggest regret if I reached the end of my life, and I was the same as I am today. Not because I think I’m a terrible person, or that I don’t love myself as I am right now, but because there is SO much more the Lord can heal and transform in me, and it would be such a tragedy if I remained the same. We were not created to remain the same, we were created to become new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). That means we have to be open to letting Him do the work in us that is necessary for our transformation.
I am so inspired by St. Peter because even though he screwed up numerous times and let the Lord down frequently (like we all do), he refused to be left the same. I can relate to him so much because he was afraid during many of the scenes in Scripture. One of my favorite ones is where Jesus calls Peter to get out of the boat, and walk on water towards Him. We tend to focus on the fact that Peter took his eyes off Jesus and started to drown, and I have often been tempted to see this as a failure of Peter’s faith. But the more I have reflected on this passage, the more I am able to see how courageous it was of Peter to even risk getting out of the boat in the first place. I don’t think this was a failure of faith for Peter. I think this was a moment of growth for him. Why? Because he tried. He made an attempt. He took a chance. How many of us would have even tried to leave the boat? Peter obviously would have benefited in having more trust in Jesus, but how do we grow in trust if we never try in the first place?
Even though his faith started to waiver when he took his eyes off Jesus, Peter still tried to be faithful to the Lords request. He still took risks. He still tried to let the Lord stretch him even when it cost him. I believe that in all of these moments where Peter was afraid but tried anyway, the Lord was using these moments to help prepare and strengthen him, to become the bold, courageous, unwavering leader of our Church. He saw in Peter a desire to become a better man, a more faithful disciple. Peter may have messed up, stumbled and failed along the way, but no one can say that Peter didn’t try. No one can accuse Peter of remaining comfortable, or claim that Peter wasn’t willing to take chances for the Lord. And no one can say that Peter was the same man as he was before he chose to follow Jesus. Isn’t this the goal of the Christian life? Could people look at our lives and say the same things about us that we can say about Peter?
I want to live like Peter. I don’t want to live a life where I am stagnant, where I am okay with just playing it safe and never struggling to become better. I want to overcome my fears, or at the very least, push through them. I don’t want to choose comfort over growth. I don’t want to live in denial over the things in me that need healing. I want to be honest with myself. I know that it’s impossible to become the woman God is calling me to be, if I am only concerned with remaining comfortable and staying the same. I want to look back at the end of my life and be able to tell the Lord with as much sincerity as possible, “It wasn’t always pretty and I messed things up along the way, but Lord, I tried my best to honor the mission you had for my life. I never stopped trying to become the woman you wanted me to be.” That to me would be the definition of a life well lived.
One of my favorite quotes that always inspires me when I am tempted to not want to go through the pain of growing and healing, is by Pope Benedict Emeritus XVI. He says,
“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
“You were made for greatness.” Wow! That’s an incredible affirmation and yet it’s a bit daunting at the same time. Do we live our lives striving for greatness? I’m not talking about falling short of greatness, because we all experience that. I’m talking about, do we even try to get outside our comfort zone? Do we even think about the mission Jesus has for us, or even care to reflect on ways He is calling us to become more? Do we push ourselves to move past our fears and get out of the boat we are stuck in? Are we honest with ourselves about the areas we need Jesus to heal us in? Do we give of our time to actively serve others and make the world a better place, or do we sit at home safe and comfortable?
As Christians, our goal has to be a continual transformation. This is what our life is all about-becoming more and more conformed to Christ’s own image. Is this easy and pain-free? Not even close. But it’s worth it for us to try, for love of Jesus. Think about where you are today. What fears do you have? What brokenness do you carry? What holds you back in your life? Now imagine 10 years from now, 20 years, 30 years…being in the same place you are right now. My brothers and sisters, let us not settle for that. Let us ask Jesus to not leave us the same as we are today. This is my prayer for myself and it will be my prayer for each of you. We have one life to live. As St. Teresa of Calcutta used to say, “Let us do something beautiful for God.”
2018 Drewe DeJesus
Photo by Ben White at Freely Photos