“That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
1 Peter 4:2 KJV
People change, and not always for the better. This is a sad reality of life and one that I have come to realize. The choices we make, when the inevitable circumstances of life turn sour, defines our future. Attitudes that are embraced during those times can become solidified with the hardness of a rock wall. An acknowledgment of sovereignty turns many a man against the very God he says he loves when life does not play out as he desires. That which refuses to be acknowledged with the lips is often buried deep within the heart.
Furthermore, an actual, or supposed offense by someone close, can send a man into a tailspin of resentment and anger. A refusal to acknowledge and receive a rebuke can be the reason we choose to cut ties with a friend. An unwillingness to forgive a past grievance buries us in a cold cave. We resolve to remain there regardless of the hurt it causes us. Pain experienced long enough becomes a numbing thing. In our desire to punish others we end up only hurting ourselves. However, all of this is avoidable. We are a product of our choices. The person we become is the person we have decided to become.
Peter had been following the Lord for several years, when, in a matter of a few days, he was not only sternly rebuked by Jesus, but he also denied Him. His Lord was going to a cross, and the strong-willed Apostle objected. Suffering was not an acceptable outcome for Jesus in the mind of Peter. After Jesus died, Peter denied even knowing him to a young girl in the courtyard of the High Priest. Thankfully, that was not the end of his journey.
Many years later he wrote this, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12,13) Over the span of some 50 years, since Peter’s face-plant in the presence of his fellow disciples, he was a changed man. His viewpoint on suffering had been transformed into a glorious expression of God’s grace. It is one of the most amazing arcs in the history of a man’s life. This rugged fisherman from Galilee had allowed the power of Jesus Christ to so soften his heart that he embraced suffering as a friend. Rather than run from suffering, he saw persecution as a means of fellowship with his Master and an opportunity to bring glory to God.
We all make choices in our lives to become the people that we become. To blame circumstances or other people for the hardness in our lives is to give them power over us, and at the same time, refuse the power of God to change us. It has been said that the same vinegar that makes some pickles sour makes other pickles sweet. We all become wrinkled with time, but the kind of pickle we become is our choice.