I was about 11 years old, the best I remember, when Mama asked me to watch the pressure cooker. She had another project going and would be back momentarily. The kitchen was hot from the wood stove and as the cooker heated up, the steam inside had to escape through the pressure valve.
Now, telling me to watch the cooker was not enough instructions to my 13 year old brain. I was carefree and playful, everything was a game, nothing serious, yet I was the one, third born of her children that she placed in charge of the pressure cooker. If she told me what was in it, I don’t remember.
The Chrome kitchen table had leaves that slid up under the table. Sliding the leaves out just so far, made for a good “piano”. So as I waited for whatever it was I was supposed to do with the “watch the pressure cooker” orders, I played my imaginary piano, and I sang every song I could think of. Country, gospel or popular songs of the day I gleaned from my limited repertoire.
It didn't take long for me to get to the end of my list, and competeing with the jingling pressure valves was getting more difficult. I got up, stretched my arms and walked around the room.
“I wonder what would happen if I touched that jingling thingy,” I mused in my most inquisitive mind. No one had ever explained the process going on, that if steam is trapped inside a container, it will eventually explode.
I like the sizzling sound that came when I lightly touched the petcock. I quickly removed my hand and the loud jingle started again. “That was fun!” I giggled as I reached for the heat control valve again. This time holding it down a moment longer than before.
“BOOM!” Beans went everywhere. Beans on me! Beans on the ceiling! On the walls! On the floor! I tell you beans were everywhere. A few minor burns on my face and arms, but otherwise I would live. Well, until Mama came home and realized she had left the wrong person in charge.
What kind of lesson do I glean from this? Looking at that cooker, I could not tell what it held. It was a nice cooker – a clean cooker – worthy of holding its contents. Only under pressure did I know what was inside.
Peter in the New Testament is a prime example. Walking with Peter as one of his fellow disciples, one would not know that Peter had self will, self preservation, self righteousness or self confidence. On the outside we would see a man who sacrificed his own choices to follow the Lord. We would see a man who knew his trade. He knew fish, he knew fishing and he knew where to find the best catch.
Peter thought he had denied himself to follow Christ. From our view he did. Peter even had a divine revelation of Christ. From the words of Jesus we would agree “Blessed art thou Simon Barjonia, for flesh and blood has not reveal this unto you, but my Father in Heaven…” (Matt 16:17) Great job, Peter!
Peter took chances –he was impulsive on the good side. He exemplified great Faith when he actually got out of the boat and started his walk to Jesus a few yards away. I applaud him.
He was protective of Jesus as he spoke with passion “”Be it far from thee Lord, this shall no be unto thee!” (Matt 18:22) I admire that in Peter.
His self confidence is played out when at the last supper he said “Though all men be offended because of thee, yet I will never be offended.” And in the next breath, “Though I should die with you, yet I will not deny You.” (Matt 26:31) But Peter did not know himself.
When Jesus called Peter a rock – a sturdy example of a believer, Jesus words may have slid down in Peter’s heart of self righteousness. But…when the pressure started while Jesus was still on trial, the Peter we saw, and the real Peter was about to be revealed. The picture was not pretty. What was in his heart is like a picture of a cup filled with coffee that is jostled and spilling out on those around.
When he was told “your speech betrays you”, his self preservation in the form of cowardice came to the surface.
When the rooster crowed, he saw his self confidence fail him. Our inner self is a veil that is woven from fine threads of the self life – our inner self is not what we are – but who we are. The real Peter was being revealed, and I don’t think Peter liked what he saw.
As was Peter, so are we. Often it takes crises in our life for the real contents of who we are to show. The beans blow in to every direction. Sometimes we get burned, sometimes others are burned. Most injuries can be healed. If anyone lost confidence in Peter when he denied Christ, we are not told. However the Peter that emerged after the Resurrection would be enough for confidence in him to be restored. After seeing himself for what he really was – self righteous –the picture the Bible gives us from then on, is totally the opposite.
How are you under pressure? In a Crisis? What does the real you look like? Are you pleased with what emerges?