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Tuesday, Fifth Week of Lent

"I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you." 2 Corinthians 7:16


"Diana the Huntress", c. 1550, School of Fontainebleau

When joy touches us it can seem a godlike experience, suddenly making us aware of the eternal, assuring us that we have nothing to fear, and that the foundation of all being is Love. Like Diana the huntress, we stride out uncluttered through the morning sunlight. We need no covering for our feet: they are met by tender grass and flowers. We need no clothing, since in the world where joy has led us there is no need for concealment. We may go naked and unashamed, accepted for what we are. Outside of joy, it takes very great confidence in another to appear without protection, but here, there is only vigorous and unencumbered movement forwards. The dog - our animal nature - springs obediently beside the virgin goddess, our spirit. Diana does not even need to look where she is going: in her joyful confidence there are no mistakes.


What's the difference between being confident and being cocksure?


Confidence simply means acting "with- faith/trust". Whereas, cocksure or "cocky" means there's a level of arrogance or presumption peppered in the mix. You still feel confident, but maybe for the wrong reasons...maybe you're overly confident with an insufficient grounding for such a feeling.


The apostle Peter puts confidence on display in the Gospels...the good and the bad. Traveling with his teacher and other disciples, Peter occasionally offers up the right answer to the Rabbi's questions. It feels good to be in the limelight. This happened when Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah in Matthew 16. Jesus in turn tells Peter he has answered well and he will build his church on this rock and the gates of Hades won't overcome it. I imagine Peter is floating on cloud 9 after this. Maybe, feeling self-assured made his head swell and that's why he turns around in his new found confidence and tells the Master what to do. Because right after this scene, Jesus tells his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and the elders, and eventually die. Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes him, "hey, you can't die Jesus. You just marked an A+ on my paper and told us all that nothing would be able to take down your Church...not even death. So let's stop with all this hysterical talk about you going to Jerusalem to die. We're going to Jerusalem to take the throne"...and then, like a straight-pin to a balloon, Jesus bursts Peter's bubble, and puts a check on his self-assured bravado. "Get behind me Satan" are the words from Jesus' lips. "You're not talking about the things of God, but merely human concerns", replied Jesus. Oh how the mighty have fallen!?!?!


Peter, over and over again gives life to the phrase "ready, fire, aim". He puts his foot in his mouth. He sins. He screws up repeatedly, even taking someones ear off with a sword and denying Christ three times. He has the confidence that lets him try things. His failure is not final. Iteration after iteration, the kind of habit Peter develops only comes from being in the presence of someone like Jesus, where it's ok to fail and try again. Jesus never disowns Peter over his mistakes.


But the longer Peter stays with Jesus. Traveling all that time as one of his disciples, and then experiencing the totalizing dismay of loss. Seeing Jesus dead and knowing you did nothing to stop it. It's not that you tried and came up short, you simply ran away, you abandoned your friend and Messiah in his time of need. That's enough to make anyone quit outright.


Instead, we will see Jesus rise from the grave on the third day. He will reappear to Peter. He will ask Peter if he loves him, and he will commission Peter into ministry. It doesn't look quite as arrogant though. That doesn't mean Peter is free of mistakes. He does regain a confidence though. The kind that enables him to trust Jesus with more and more. Peter still bumps up against the unknown, things and people that are unfamiliar to him. And yet, he can trust Jesus and move into these situations with a new sense of courage that doesn't stem from arrogance...but a humble expectation. Life isn't safe, but God is good and always present.


Stand tall

Open your arms and your posture.

Ask God to reveal and remove arrogance from your life.

Ask God to fill you with the confidence that comes from trusting in the goodness of Jesus.


Prayer:

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

Dancing is good for confidence building too! Don't be afraid to be silly and let loose.



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