Spiritual Discipline // SUBMISSION
By Chris Bowlby
As I read through the Gospels I am ASTOUNDED by Peter. Do you ever read through the Gospels and then read the book of Acts and think, “There is no way this is the same Peter . . .”? He was impulsive. He was quick to anger and judgement. He was always allowing his tongue to get in the way of his heart. Yet we do see a transformation that occurs over these 3+ years. He goes from an impulsive fisherman to a pillar of the Church. God used this boldness that would cause him to be odds at Jesus (read Matthew 16 and observe Jesus referring to Peter as Satan . . . ouch!) to bring Him glory! Peter in Acts 4 is preaching one of the most beautiful, powerful, and spirit filled sermons to date. What happened to Peter? How did he go from the disciple that denied Jesus to the disciple that would be willing to die for Jesus?
Peter allowed himself to be submitted to Jesus even when it would hurt . . .
At the end of John’s Gospel we see an interaction between Jesus and Peter after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter had denied Jesus on three separate occasions after He was arrested, and Peter and Jesus are going to have to work through some stuff. Jesus, asking Peter (three times ironically) if he loved him led to an invitation from Jesus to Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21:17). As much as Peter was starting to understand his own calling, John draws our attention to one of the final moments of His Gospel.
John 21:20–23 (NLT)
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”John 21:20–23 (NLT)
What is that to you . . . follow me. Ooph. It’s easy to look at the lives of others and become envious of a calling, a station in life, certain relationships, gifting and to long for something different. The same Jesus that drew Peter’s attention back to his own station calls us back to our as well. We can all be tempted to want something different. I call these the “happy-when’s”.
“I’ll be happy when I have a new job . . .”
“I’ll be happy when I find a spouse . . .”
“I’ll be happy when I have kids . . .”
“I’ll be happy when the kids are out of the house . . .”
“I’ll be happy when my church does what I want them to . . .”
There are times for change in life. There is very little in our life that is static, but our happiness is never at the end of an outcome or change in circumstances. One of the many beautiful aspects of Christianity is we always have the opportunity to submit to our current station in life and find satisfaction. Satisfaction is in being faithful to our calling, regardless of circumstance.
Mt Angel houses a Benedictine Monastery. Monks and nuns have devoted their lives to pursuing God. A monk is given a cell (room) along with personal hygiene items and a few changes of robes. They have very few if any personal items, but whatever they do have, they consider to be all that they need to be faithful to God’s calling on their lives. Ronald Rohlheiser in his book, Domestic Monastery compares a Monk’s cell to our modern lives.
“Go to your cell, and your cell will teach you everything you need to know: Stay inside your vocation, inside your commitments, inside your legitimate conscriptive duties, inside your church, inside your family, and they will teach you where life is found and what love means. Be faithful to your commitments, and what you are ultimately looking for will be found there.”Ronald Rohlheiser, Domestic Monastery
You may be in a career you hate, but can you submit to your current station and trust that God has, “good works planning in advance” (Ephesians 2:10). Maybe there is a career change in the future, but it won’t be for you to be more faithful or find more satisfaction. Can you can you submit to your marriage and trust that satisfaction comes at loving your spouse “as Christ has loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25). For your application do an inventory of your callings right now. My callings are,
- Husband to Alyssa
- Father to Audrey, Hannah, Emma, Nora, and Charlie
- Pastor at New Hope
- Son to Kit, Brother to Nick, and friend to many.
All of these callings can feel daunting at times. Or I can feel like it would be easier to live in someone else’s calling, the “happy-when’s”. But God has given me everything within these callings to be faithful to Him, my calling, and to find satisfaction while doing so as I am submitted these stations. What has God called you to? How can you remain faithful to your stations? Don’t get caught in the “happy-when’s”.
Others may be called to something different, “but what is it to you?”. God has a gift for you as you are submitted and faithful to where you are at!