The third time is the charm

We’re a dense bunch. It can take multiple attempts for a message to finally get through our thick skulls. This, God knows and, this, even the devoted apostle Peter stands beside those of us today that need to repeatedly hear what God is communicating. We could, perhaps, consider Peter an exceptional candidate for slowness in understanding since he was directly instructed by the Lord Himself. But instead of allowing ourselves to rise above him, we could learn how lowly we still are as we bow before the God who we all worship under. Three passages reveal where Peter failed to understand, each instance required the message to be relayed three times before Peter finally saw what God was telling him.

The first two stories are familiar to us; Peter disowning Jesus, soon after His capture that led to His crucifixion, by denying knowing Him until the rooster crowed after the third time he was asked (Matthew 26:69-75; Luke 22:54-62) and the second, after Jesus’ resurrection when He pressed Peter by asking the same question three times, “Do you truly love me?” (John 21:15-17). The third story is found within the book of Acts, where God reveals to Peter in a vision that nothing is impure that God has made clean (Acts 10:9-15). God needed to repeat the message within the vision to Peter three times (Acts 10:16) before it was finally understood.

Although all three of these stories have their own differences and separate messages God was communicating to Peter, the one similarity is that it needed to be repeated through the third time before it sunk in. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this were a sure fire method for us when approaching others with what we’re trying to get across to them? If, after three attempts, they’d finally see the light? Well, lovely as that may be, this is not necessarily what I’m taking from these passages. The beauty I see within them is the vertical message, rather than a horizontal recipe for success amongst each other. 

Our density when dealing with each other is obvious, as any of us who’ve engaged in the art of communication surely know. However, the messages that God is giving us in any given circumstance are far more superior when received with knowledge and understanding as He shows us what we need to read between the lines. Most of the time, we’re so wrapped up in our own confining minds, developing a worldview that emanates from us as the source, that He deems it necessary to show and tell us over and over again until we, hopefully, realize what it is that He is sharing with us for our sanctification. Whether it’s relayed to us through another person, as with the girl prodding Peter for his recognition of Jesus, or through hearing the very words of Christ, antagonizing us to a point of deeply considering whether our actions are reflective of our love for Him, or by an amazing vision He shows us, like Peter’s trance, through His Spirit that He breaks through our densely mortal minds until we get it.

Reading Peter’s experiences shed light into how persistent God will be to get done in us what He wants. We may fight His repeated attempts, intentionally or unintentionally, but He will sustain in communicating His will because that is who He is. Loving, persevering, convicting, teaching, faithful, and through this merely partial list of His attributes, communicating is also part of who He is.

What is it lately that He is digging through in our lives, performing a sort of excavation of our fleshly desires to reach the root issue which He wants us to see? Has it happened once, twice, or a third time, that same begging question or circumstance that nags at us when our brains are unbusy enough to contemplate? There is something, always at least one thing, that He is sending us as a message that we need to hear from Him. Peter walked with Christ on earth and even he had trouble getting the gist; Christians today walk with Christ on a different plane, but the struggle remains the same. For me, in some instances, the third time has been the charm, but some take more or less prompts until I hear God’s will. However many times He has to repeat Himself, I stay grateful for, not only the message He’s conveying, but that He never gives up on getting it to me.

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