Below is an excerpt from my book Surrendered & Untamed, Chapter Nine - Learning To Dance A Matter Of Trust
“Simon (Peter) I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through your time of testing, turn to your friends and give them a fresh start.” (3)
Peter gave the typical Peter response: “I will, even if the other disciples don't.” Then Jesus, just after telling Peter that he is praying for him to keep faith, says the craziest thing "...before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me." (4) Essentially, “Hey Pete, you will deny me, you will fail me."
What?! It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this. It seems cruel and it feels cruel. Why set Peter up to fail? Jesus was already going to the cross. Wasn’t it already painful and confusing enough for Peter? Wasn’t the test big enough just to be a disciple of Jesus during this time? Why add to the trauma?
In the midst of writing this, with tears in my eyes, I asked God to please show me why this was necessary. I feel He gave me this revelation - Jesus wasn’t expecting Peter to understand or even “pass” the time of testing. Whether he passed or understood was irrelevant; it was simply that he experience and endure, and learn to dance.
“Never give a man a sword who can’t dance."
- Celtic proverb
I believe Peter had to have this painful testing experience. It was an absolutely essential part of his story. It was never about his understanding the situation. It could be said Peter failed during his time of testing but it wasn’t about his success, it was about his experience. Jesus already knew Peter would deny Him. Yet the experience was essential to Peter’s journey. His ownership of that experience from denial to redemption was what allowed him to be life to his friends.
After Jesus has risen from the grave and all was said and done, He met with the disciples out on the beach. Jesus and Peter went for a walk and then Jesus asked Peter the same question three times: “Do you love me, Peter?"
I think you could also phrase the question this way, “Peter, can I trust you with a sword?"
Peter can only respond, “Yes Lord. Lord you know I love you."
Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” And with that commission, Peter was released to live his promise fully untamed. And with that commission, Jesus released an anointing on Peter that any believer would envy.
That day on the beach Peter learned that the sword Jesus had told them about was not an extension of his arm but rather of his heart. - That the power of his sword was not found in determination but in surrender. It meant trading his self-consciousness for God-consciousness. When you’re not self-conscious, you’re free to dance, forgive, serve, and love.
I believe God was cultivating a profound revelation of surrender in Peter. You see, the Peter from the Garden couldn’t be trusted to live untamed. He couldn’t be trusted to swing a sword until he understood brokenness, until he had become intimate with surrender, until he had learned to dance. God was building the foundation of His church upon the truth of surrender he was birthing in Peter.
Three days earlier, Peter boldly knew he loved Jesus. You couldn't have convinced him otherwise. He was willing to murder for Jesus. A man who doesn’t know how to dance is a dangerous man, even if he’s a disciple. He might just kill you. However, now on the other side of the disillusionment, Peter not only loved Jesus in brash boldness but in pure brokenness.
And that is where our promise lives, within the marriage of surrendered and untamed. Jesus said it is not by might and not by power, but by His spirit.
Amazingly, because of the cross, because of grace, we can fail Jesus and not be failures. In fact to think otherwise belittles what He did at Calvary. Outside of His grace we are not capable of loving Jesus. Inside of His grace we are not capable of failing him. We can get it wrong, but in believing get it right. We wont always understand the journey, and that’s the point. We have to learn the dance steps of disillusionment. God shatters our illusions until our hearts are in full alignment with His. Then it’s our joy to run after Jesus and it’s His joy to work it all to His glory.
You see, the wilder God wants to use us, the larger His invitation of our surrender to Him. And God is thorough in His preparation of us when releasing His power and authority. God doesn’t think small. God’s plans for us are big. He has plans so big that to engage them we must step into a greater revelation of who God is. And for that, we’ll need a sword. But first we have to learn to dance...