Are you discouraged in your Christian walk? You push with all your strength, but the mountain just won't budge. You drain your brain, but the correct answer rarely seems to surface. You swing with all your might, but strike three is your greatest accomplishment. If this is you, chin up because you're not alone. 

As believers, we experience less victory and more bruises than we would ever like to admit. As imperfect beings chasing an awesome God, we can't help but trip and stumble in our pursuit of Him.  I mean, let's be honest. Let's face the facts. Most of us would like to wake up every morning to trumpets and serenading angels, but more often we drag out of bed licking the wounds of disappointment and nursing the scars of yesterday. 

However, there is hope. In fact, the solution may be right under our noses. Run harder? No. Think faster? Not quite. Do more? How could we? All of these seem logical but afford us nothing but more scrapes, less joy, and added stress. So, let's dive right in and be encouraged.

I'd like to introduce you to someone. He's my hero and his name is Peter - Simon Peter to be exact. Most people would not place him in the same category as other great leaders, but I think he deserves a class all his own. You see - he was a misfit. An outcast. A screw-up. He was the strike out king.  As a result, a great deal of his life and career was overcast with the very storm clouds of discouragement we find so often hanging in our skies. I guess that's why I look up to him. I relate so well because I, too, was a misfit.

Peter was the kind of person who wanted an answer for everything.  Peter's mind, though it seemed mostly empty, was always in fifth gear, constantly conceiving new questions and desperately deducing the correct answer. If Peter didn't understand something Jesus taught, he was never afraid of looking foolish in front of the others. He simply blurted out exactly what was on his mind.  Though this probably annoyed others, there is something very interesting hidden within Peter's probing personality.

With each of his questions, Peter almost always took an honest shot at the answer.  He didn't just ask Jesus, "How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?"  He posted his best answer.  "Seven?"1  As usual, it was terribly wrong, but a valiant effort.  His questions and answers reveal to us just how deeply and fully Peter wanted to serve Christ. He never settled for a simple question and routine answer.  He wanted to know completely what Christ was thinking, feeling, and sharing with the world.  "What does the parable mean?"2 "What will be our reward for following you?"3 "Lord, where are you going?"4 "Why can't I come?"5  Like a five-year-old in a candy store, he refused to take anyone's word over a personal taste test.  Peter may have been a bother, but he was at all times mentally engaged and consciously dedicated as he sought to please Christ.

From Head to Heart

However, following Christ is not just a matter of the mind. As for Peter and most of us, the difference between living a confident or discouraged Christian life is the 18 inches between our heads and our hearts. We know the basics. We may be trivia experts or have even memorized our favorite scripture passages. Our intelligence is not lacking, but we are often apathetic and discouraged because the knowledge in our minds does not have a passionate fire to fuel us toward Him. Not so for Peter.

Peter's passion was pure. His devotion was deep. His drive was strong. His determination was unyielding. His spirit was incredible. He was the first out of the boat, last in line, and always on the ball. The desire of Peter's heart was to eat, drink, and sleep Jesus. No matter where Jesus was, Peter was by His side. No matter what Jesus said, Peter listened. Whatever Jesus did, Peter lent a helping hand. Peter's life mission was to please the one who had transformed his life from coy to confident. Tiresome to thrilling. Sour to sweet.