Everone knows the story of Peter and how he had denied Jesus. He felt this sense of shame for denying Jesus. We know that the rooster crowed and he felt that shame that was there. Then after it had happened, people wanted to make sure that Peter heard about it.
I think the shame he felt is expressed well in the Don Fransico song “He’s Alive”.
The gates and doors were barred
All the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away
And just before the sunrise
Heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
Hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldier’s feet
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him
Then I saw Him die
Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same
60 Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” Immediately, while he was yet speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And Peter went outside and wept bitterly.
As we consider this concept of refocusing, we’ll think about three stages of life when we focus. Next, we’ll discuss refocusing at any stage of life. Finally, we’ll think about rebuilding if necessary.
Focusing in Life Stages
Let’s start out with the first stage of life; the stage of being a child. To some degree, this “child” stage is relative. My aunt is about 91 years old, so to her, I am still my sister’s child. So we’re just talking about rough ages here – generalizations. Of course, you begin with birth. Now, I know that teenagers don’t like to be considered “children”, and definitely not people in their 20s, but for my purposes here, they are grouped into the child stage of life until they become parents.
In many instances, this is the stage of life where they become Christians. But not always. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity a few years ago to be a chaplain at the VA Medical Center. At that time, most of the population there were World War 2 veterans. They had lived, and were strong men, but they had finally come up against something they weren’t able to handle on their own. It’s unusual for someone their age to come to Christ, but I am thankful that they were open to the Gospel.
But the statistics are that most people who become Christians do so when they are children. That’s why it’s good to have all the noise that children bring in a church service. They’re hearing the Gospel. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me” (Matthew 19:14) and He said, “Except you become as a little child, you can not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
In some of the discipleship classes I’ve been a part of, we practice telling our stories to one another. Telling your story to someone who hasn’t heard the Gospel can give them hope. In hearing those stories, there are often two parts. The first part is a story of coming to Christ at a young age, maybe 4 or 6 or, in my case, 11 years old. Then there is a second more significant part of that story, where the teller committed their life to Christ.
Also in the children’s stage, the Bible says that young men (and women) will have visions and old men (and women) will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17) So, young people can see what could be, and that excites me. When they get it in their hearts about what it could be like. Could your town be changed? Could your friends be changed? Could those who have maybe gotten into some addiction be changed? Could I be used to tell others about Christ? That often happens in the child stage
Then I think about the parent stage. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has to have children. It’s just the general age a person may be when people start having children.
Recently, a lady in our community passed away. While she never had any children of her own, I know she influenced several young people throughout her life. We sent our children to her for piano lessons, and we were glad for them to learn to play the piano. But she was such a wonderful influence, I had often said that I would have paid her just to spend time with them. She was so excited about what was happening in their life.
As parents, you’re in the position of moving into leading. Sometimes this happens, and you don’t really have the manual, and don’t have it all figured out. Suddenly, there are these short people running through the house and you’re responsible for them. What are you supposed to do? You need to take the Word of God and let it help you run your life. You’re leading your family and you’re leading your children when you’re in that parental stage.
But you’re also serving. The four gospels present Jesus in different ways. The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as King. Matthew is primarily writing to the Jewish audience. The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus along the same line as some of the Old Testament prophets; as a servant. One of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, presented Jesus as a suffering servant. (Isaiah 52-53) So you’re leading your family and you’re leading your children. But if you’re a parent you’re a servant. You’re serving your family.
I had an uncle who was very rough and gruff. He wouldn’t go to church for anything although I do believe he got saved a day or two before he died. If I’m wrong, I’ve been able to cope with that thought through the years, because if I’m wrong it’s terrible. Even though he was rough and gruff, our daughters could wrap him around their little fingers. Because sometimes, we serve children. If you’re a parent, you may know what it’s like to be a suffering servant.
Oftentimes during this stage from the time that you become a parent up until the age when your children get married and have children, there often occurs, midlife reflection. Sometimes it becomes what is called a mid-life crisis.
What happens is you realize that your life is passing. You realize that you had visions and dreams to start with. Now you’re at the middle part of your life, your children are grown up, and you recognize your failures. You recognize that things haven’t turned out how you had hoped. Or, you may have a great deal of success in certain areas.
This is a good time to refocus. Have you been tied up with concerns with your job? Are you concerned with just your family just internally? Are you just being consumed with certain things? Meanwhile, the Lord has just been put off to the side. It’s a really good time for reflection and to realize that you need to refocus.
I have a book that was given to me by my children called “Half-Time” In the book, the author said in the first half of your life, you start making money and start working with your family. But then you come to a point where you have a parallel career. It may not be your main job or business. His point was that you ought to have a parallel career or start a new one. He said you should consider focusing on a ministry. During that mid-life reflection, I would hope that we would refocus on being more and more used by God. Many times the mid-life crisis hits men because of the weight of their responsibilities.
The third stage is that of grandparents. People who are around the ages of 50s or 60s and up. This would also include retirees.
I think if you are retired and you decide in retirement you’re just going to sit around and do nothing, you’re probably not going to be very happy. You might enjoy that for about a month. But, it may turn out that you’ll be so busy you ask yourself how you ever had time to have a job. I pray that’s how it will be for you when you retire.
I think of retirement as a time and opportunity for a new ministry. You might think that when I talk about ministry, I’m referring to being a preacher. But, every Christian can have a ministry and serve God in some way. In some capacity and I think they should find out what that is. It could certainly be part of that parallel career, and maybe you could devote all your time to it.
Well, when you’re doing this as grandparents, you’re helping and inspiring leaders: Now the parents of your grandchildren. Your children grew up and you get the opportunity to be present in the lives of their children. Your grandchildren may be driving your children crazy, and you might tell them “You’re paying for your raising”. Now, your children are thinking, ”Oh, now I understand. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my parents, but now I do.”
Remember earlier I talked about the young men having visions and the old ones dreaming dreams. Well, some of those dreams are remembering the successes. We have dreams for the future and may think that we may not be able to carry them out. Some of those dreams will be left for the younger ones to fulfill.
So, that’s focusing in the different life stages.
Refocusing at Any Life Stage
The second point is refocusing at any life stage. There is a story in the Bible about sisters named Mary and Martha. Jesus was going to spend time in their home. It was during His ministry and it was quite an honor. Martha and Mary spent a lot of time getting the house ready.
When Jesus arrived, there were still things left to be done. Martha continued to work while Mary went and sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching. This angered Martha. She went to Jesus, the King of the Jews, and told Him to tell Mary to go and help her! But Jesus told her that what Mary chose to do is better. (Luke 10:38-42)
So with Mary and Martha, you have devotion, and you have action. Both were important. The reason why Mary could do what she did was because of the actions that had been done earlier.
I think about men and women. Specifically about women who have the heart to serve God. They often lead their husbands by their spirit and their love for God because they show devotion. Men do that also, but their expressing and showing devotion is different. Because of that, the ladies become a great challenge to us as men in the area of spirituality. So I’m praying that the Lord will bless you ladies in your devotion time. I know that if you take many actions you may be like Martha, too.
Men may wonder, “What’s this about coming and serving God? I just come to church and sit there.” I would suggest that you really focus on the words of the song as you’re hearing them sung. I would also suggest that you sing along. If you’re not comfortable with your singing voice, just sing quietly. But it’s almost passive, and you desire action.
There is action! Be active for God! Instead of just dropping the kids off at church, go inside and attend church with them. It’s good that you’re bringing the children to church so they can hear the word of God, but there’s something about the young boys seeing Dad there in the pew, worshipping, trying to sing, or with his head bowed. Sometimes, there’s Dad on his knees as an example.
“Looking for a few good men”
You have devotion in action. Do you need to refocus on your devotion and your love for God? Or do you need to refocus and take more action for God? Do you need to get out of your comfort zone? We talk about changing our Nation? It’s going to get changed one person at a time. What influence do you have on others that are around you?
Men and women both take action.
Rebuilding When Necessary
So we talked about focusing in the stages and refocusing at any age. Refocus and have a desire to have a greater devotion to Christ this year. Refocus and have the desire to do more action for Christ this year.
The third thing is rebuilding when necessary. Has it come to a point in your life where you need to rebuild? Sometimes people are dealing with addictions in their life, and it’s got such a hold on them. So they get a resolve. For example, the desire to quit smoking. It’s an addiction. It’s a physical thing and it’s very difficult. But the person begins the process. What happens, though, is that they have one slip-up and then give up. It can be another addiction or habit. It can be a bad habit you need to give up or a good one you need to start. But you have one bad day and quit trying.
There was a man walking down the street one day and there were two boys that looked like they were getting ready to fight. They had their fists up and were staring at each other. He came and stepped between the two because one boy was obviously a lot taller and heavier than the other one. So he was going to stop them before the younger one got clobbered.
The smaller boy said, “No, no, let me at him!”. It impressed him so much that the man stepped back and joined the rest of the crowd watching the fight.
They went at each other and the smaller boy got his nose bloodied. The man stepped in to stop it again. The bigger boy was smirking and gloating. Once again, though, the smaller boy said, “No. Don’t stop it. Let me back in there!” The bigger boy was taken aback, but the man stepped back again. The boys went at each other again, and this time the small boy came away with a busted lip. The man tried again to break up the fight, and the smaller boy said again, “No, let me back at him!” The bigger boy was getting tired at this point and was amazed that the other boy was still fighting. The fight went on for a while and each time the smaller boy was knocked down, he got back up and continued to fight. His persistence paid off and he won the fight!
II Corinthians 4:8,9
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
In other words, down but not out. Rebuild when necessary. You can be down but not out. If you fall off a horse, get back on. The pathway to success often has marks of failure on it. You can often learn more by failure than by success.
Think of Peter’s restoration. They headed for the tomb where they had placed Jesus’ body. On their way there, they worried about how they would remove the stone. But when they arrived, they saw that the stone was moved, and a man clothed in white was there. (Mark 16:5-7) They were frightened but were told that Jesus had risen. The angel gave them instructions to tell His disciples “and Peter”.
Jesus came and met Peter again. After a time of restoration (John 21:15), Jesus and His disciples were together, and Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus didn’t mention Peter’s failure. He just made sure Peter knew that He was coming back. Peter ended up being rebuilt in his life and on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and thousands came to know the Lord.
Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried
He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace
He’s alive, He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
You can be rebuilt, and you can refocus. If you’ve never accepted Christ, you need to do that, and commit your life to Him. You need to refocus on your devotion and action and get back in the game stronger than ever before.