One of the most watched movies of all-time is the children’s favorite, “The Wizard of Oz.” I doubt if there is a child out of the last 4 generations that has missed seeing it. Isn’t it amazing how the characters have maintained their youth? Their story is still as relevant today as it was when it was produced over 60 years ago. Dorothy is whisked away by a swirling tornado somewhere over the rainbow into the dazzling Land of Oz. There, she meets up with new-found friends, and together they go in search of the kingdom’s mysterious wizard. They are all hoping to receive something they do not possess, but much to their disappointment, they find a wizard who possessed something he could not give. He was simply a man behind a curtain.
I would say, most everyone who is reading this is in search of something in life. Many are seeking for significance and recognition. Some are searching for joy, peace, and happiness. Some are chasing after a job or a mate. Others are seeking for answers and hope. Have you ever thought of the countless thousands who have gotten what they wanted, only to find it was not what they needed? Many have “arrived” in life, yet have no clue where they are. Just how do you plan to move from square A to square Z in your life? Upon meeting Peter for the first time, Jesus said these words in John 1:42, “thou art…thou shalt be…” Those words were laced with promise and potential, but could anyone who had heard those words ever imagined the cost it would require to make a Peter out of a Simon?
It requires adjusting our vision. Simon made the first mistake most all of us make in ministry. He saw himself larger than the call he received. Maybe it was the exclusive invitation he received. Maybe it was because of the miracles he performed. However, his call was simply to “follow,” yet he had visions of conquering thrones. Is it just a coincidence that in Mark 8, when Jesus put spittle on the eyes of a blind man and he could still only see with blurred vision that when Jesus touched his eyes again, he “made him look up?” This is a principle that also works in reverse. Like Simon, there are those who think they are strong, but God says they are weak. However, for every Gideon who proclaims, “I am the least in my father’s house,” God says, “thou mighty man of valour.” We can never become a Peter until we see Simon for who he really is. Mirrors do not lie, but quite often they tell us exactly what we want them to say.
It requires apprehending our ventures. Simon made yet another mistake most of us make. He mistook potential for the process. Simon wanted to be Peter in an instant. When Simon said that he would go so far as to die for Jesus, he meant it! In time he would. The problem was, he could not recognize he was not equipped with “Peter” to be able to fulfill it….yet. If there is anything Simon taught us at all, it’s that crow really does not taste that bad. I wonder how many Peters we’ve never gotten to meet, simply because Simon entered a door before his time? Following God and doing things His way is not always easy, but neither is anything in life that is truly worth obtaining.
It requires altering our valleys. Simon had a misconception that haunts most of us today. To him, failure was final. After his embarrassing denial, Jesus says to him, “Simon…lovest thou me?” To Simon, it was a reminder that he wasn’t there yet. But, to Jesus, it was like a mother enduring the birthing pains awaiting the soon arrival of her newborn. At Pentecost, a whirlwind of Spirited fire and the breath of God collided, and Peter was born.
At some point, the Jacob, Saul, and Simon must die in all of us. Our Father knows how to measure out just enough disappointment, and just enough failures to keep us from being a stillborn Peter.
“Thou art…thou shalt be…” How would Jesus fill in those blanks about you? How tragic it would be for people to follow the yellow brick road of our life, to only find we were simply a man behind a curtain.
© Alan Stewart, 2004.
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.