I love this particular meditation on Peter from “Reflections on the Passion” by Charles Hugo Doyle. I’ll share some of it here for our Lent Devotional for Women today.
“To what may we ascribe Peter’s initial flight? It may not have been simply the sudden fright of alarm but rather because his piety, at that period of his history, was fashioned more by feeling than by principle.”
Well, well, well…how familiar does that sound, “…fashioned more by feeling than by principle”? But hindsight being the 20/20 that it is, the author shed some hope on the situation by using the phrase, “…at that point of his history…”
And using that phrase for myself, at least I can say I’m very much like an Apostle, and saint no less, “…at this point in Jenny’s history…”
The author also leaves us with this warning, “No one can hope to stand firm in time of stress or opposition if his or her piety has been nurtured only in tender hours of emotional enjoyment.”
So the obvious question is, at what point in your story are you?
Are you only nurturing your piety in the tender hours of emotional enjoyment? That’s not meant to be an accusation by the way, just an honest question. Here, I’ll even take one for our team and go first.
Yes. I am guilty of nurturing my piety in the tender hours of emotional enjoyment…then and then only. I do it because it feels good then. It also makes me feel like it’s easy to be a Christ-follower. Whoa! I seriously took one for the team!
Here, I’ll go one better and give an example. Our family had been fervently praying, for real fervently, in the most Biblical sense of fervent ever used. And during all my fervent prayer, all I heard was crickets over the slow tick-tock of the clock on the mantle…meaning, I heard and felt nothing! Not a rush of wind, not a flutter of Holy Spirit dove wings, not a still small voice while I stood in the crevice of a mountain. Not a thing.
I heard nothing! I was even straining to listen for a still, small voice and nada, nothing, zip, zilch. My weak, little piety started to tremble, my fervor quivered, my belief waned, and my knees literally felt weak. Oh, and my stomach hurt…and my head.
Do you know some synonyms for piety? Fervor, Loyalty, Allegiance, Belief, Devoutness…Yes, and yes, I absolutely nurture those characteristics in the tender hours of my emotional enjoyment.
But when it felt like (red flag) I wasn’t being heard, when it actually seemed like I was being blatantly ignored, I started sounding like the Psalmist David:
How long O Lord! How many are my foes O Lord! Answer me O Lord! Why O Lord do you stand far off! Do not hide your face from me! Do not cast me off! Hear the sound of my pleadings when I cry to you for help!
And that’s only a quarter of the way through the Psalms!
In our private Facebook group for our Online Bible Study Community I read through some of David’s most dramatic, knee-hugging words in true Ann of Green Gables spirit! Boy, David sure knew how to string some dramatic, words together!
Did you get the point of my sharing some of David’s heartfelt, yet dramatic pleas? The point I was trying to make was, I lost all sense of piety. And surprisingly, it’s not that hard to do when I’m hollering and wallowing.
It’s super easy to lose my footing when I’ve only been nurturing my piety in the tender hours of emotional enjoyment instead of nurturing my piety as a habit. Nurturing my piety as a habit trains my fickle little heart and my wobbly little spirit to be strong when stressed or opposed.
Can you guess what happened in that not-so-pious time? God answered our prayer. He answered all of it in one very big way. And I was like the bawling toddler in the grocery store who suddenly gets the bag of candy or the toy they were bawling for.
Suddenly I stopped squawking, dried my eyes, smiling, maybe even laughing at myself for being such a big baby.
I mentioned this the other day to someone I trust and rather than jump on my pity party of one, the one where I’m busy accusing myself of being such a disloyal child of God, he gave me some very sound instruction. He told me to go forth as a shining example of the love of God.
Y’all. He had no idea that I have spent the last three weeks contemplating and writing about growing in more and better love (and yes, I know grammatically more and better love doesn’t work, but spiritually, it’s right on the money!) and then pouring it out here at The Littlest Way in our Lent Devotional for Women.
So there ya go. Ask yourself what state you’re in when you nurture your piety. In other words, “When is my love loyal to God?” I’m working on being able to answer, “Always.” And by “working on” I mean, I’m not just trying, I’m training myself!