John 21:20 – 23 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Many years ago, I taught school in Houston. Sixth grade English. And my principal, Miss Wooten, had the reputation for running one tight ship. She was tough, but fair. If a teacher did a good job, she noticed. But heaven help the teacher who messed up. As I said before – she was tough.
One day, I messed up. Big time. I forgot to turn in a very important administrative paper. When she called me into her office, my heart was pounding. I just knew my teaching career was over, at the ripe old age of 23.
I walked into her office, and she shut the door behind me. I had heard stories of colleagues – older, more experienced, tougher colleagues – leaving that office in tears. And in case you didn’t know, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. I braced myself for the worst.
And then, Miss Wooten surprised me. She leaned against her desk and said, “Do you understand that you really needed to turn in that paper by the deadline?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I squeaked.
“Give me your hand,” she said.
My hand? Why does she want my hand? I obeyed.
She took my hand, gave it a gentle slap, and then handed me a peppermint candy. “Don’t let it happen again.”
She nodded, and I knew I was dismissed. I almost felt like I’d been told, “Go, and sin no more.”
As I walked down the hallway, I felt the curious stares of my colleagues. When I returned to my classroom, one of them popped her head in the door. “You okay?” she asked.
Soon, the other teachers were swarming. They wanted to know what happened. And I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut. “I won’t make the same mistake twice,” I told them.
And I didn’t.
My point? Miss Wooten knew her staff. She knew how to deal with me. She knew I was young and sensitive. And she knew that a small pat on the hand was all I needed. She didn’t want to break me. She just wanted me to be the best teacher I could be.
And the way she chose to deal with me was really no one else’s business.
We may look at other people’s lives and wonder, “What about them? How is God going to deal with them? Why does my own life seem harder, my own trials seem harsher?”
But God made us each unique. He won’t give any of us more than we can bear, and that load is different for different people. Some of us, like Peter, are rocks. We can withstand a lot of pressure, and in fact, we may thrive under pressure. Just like Peter.
Others of us, like John, have a different type of strength. We are gentler and more sensitive. And though it may seem like God is just slapping someone on the hand and offering them a peppermint, we must understand that God knows each of us intimately. A slap on the hand may break one person’s heart, while an iron skillet over the head may not even put a dent in another’s skull. He deals with us differently, based on our unique personalities. And the way God deals with one person is really no one else’s business.
Peter, of all the disciples, was the one who could handle the pressures that came his way. John, on the other hand, became known as the disciple of love. Just read 1 – 3 John, and you will see what a gentle soul he was. God had different plans for John. He faced his own unique trials and pressures.
Friends, the important thing for Peter to understand was that God had a special plan for his life. Peter’s life. Peter, the rock. And all Peter needed to worry about was himself. He just needed to follow orders.
God has a unique plan for your life, and for my life. And those plans are tailor-made for each of us. We don’t need to get distracted by what anyone else is or isn’t doing. We just need to follow orders, and know that God won’t give any of us more than we can handle.
Dear Father, Thank You for having a special plan for my life. Please help me to focus on You, and no one else.