I live in the boonies- it takes twenty minutes to get to the grocery store; water is collected in cisterns, and everyone has a gas generator. Nothing is convenient, but everything is beautiful- the river, the hills, the wildlife. Unfortunately, the domestic beauty requires effort.
Last week, I was grubbing out weeds from flower beds with sweat stinging my eyes, and I thought about how hard and how long Jon could work. His stamina coupled with his desire to complete a project was incredible. I, being a take-a-breaker, travel the low road. Work hard for a while and then reward myself for it – that’s me. For Jon, the work was his reward. And at our house there was plenty of work to satisfy him.
We grow stones up here- some of them huge- and it has been a constant battle to dislodge them. Shortly after we moved here, Jon introduced me to the “spud -bar”, a heavy tool used to pry or break up rocks. Our horticultural efforts included: take a step, use the spud-bar; walk another step, use the spud bar. Over and over and over again. I thought, “To heck with it. Build raised beds, or plant around the rocks”, but Jon just kept digging them up. Characteristically, he moved from one problem to another, working toward solutions, motivated to “get it right”, while I dashed to get by the problems, hoping that “Happyland” was just beyond them. The problem is that there is no Happyland. There’s no getting around it- life requires a spud-bar. I call this phenomenon “the 1st Peter blues”.
Peter and I go back a long way. I couldn’t begin to count the number of I Peter studies I’ve sat through because of Jon. “Let’s do something else,” I would say, “how about John or Philippians?” But in the end, it was mostly Peter because Jon identified with him. I avoided Peter like the plague. Because he was trouble.
When Peter writes: “… even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials”, my “fight or flight” mechanism wakes up. Whoa. Hold it right there. Right off the bat, I see Peter addressing troubled people and telling them their trials are necessary. Suddenly, I turn into an intercessor for appliances. I pray that the dryer drum will keep circling, that the oven will keep heating, that the computer won’t get a virus for which it has not been immunized. But these are just the fears I acknowledge. There are much deeper ones. Peter’s audience would have been thrilled to exchange persecution for minor domestic inconveniences.
Of course these things are everywhere- hardships of one sort or another. Some we just deal with and move on; others paralyze us. Peter was certainly no stranger to hard times and tragic events, but he was able to see past them because he knew the risen Christ. Therefore, he closed his first epistle with an encouragement: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
Jon, it’s taken a while, but Peter and I are finally good friends. I don’t enjoy trials, but I acknowledge the value of facing them with an eternal perspective, knowing that there is a purpose behind them. A purpose with a promise.