The Apostle Peter

Artist: Liz Lemon Swindle
I have a lot of favorite figures from the scriptures because of what their stories have come to mean to me. Some of my choicest blessings have come from seeing that I am not alone in the challenges I face. And while I could literally spend hours talking about more than a few people from the scriptures--Abraham, Moses, Job, Alma, and Ammon, I want to spend some time reflecting on someone I've had a soft spot for in my heart as of late.

I came across a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland titled The Lengthening Shadow of Peter when I was looking for something completely different a few days ago. I've read it a few times through, and it has given me a much-needed change of perspective about quite a few things in my life.

Elder Holland begins be recanting Spencer W. Kimball's reaction to someone who decided to be critical of Peter. That anyone could  be critical of Peter was rather surprising to me, I'll admit. Apparently there was a minister that took it upon himself to condemn Peter for denying Christ three times. It never occurred to me that Peter could be blamed for such a thing, and with Elder Holland's most recent General Conference talk about the Savior, we can't be certain of what exactly was taking place in those final moments of the Savior's life in regards to His apostles. But it just goes to show you that no matter how hard you try for no matter how long, someone will still manage to find fault with you. If it happened to Christ and to Peter, I shouldn't be surprised when it happens to me.

What stood out to me after that was the image of Peter that Elder Holland describes. A man full of
charity that is not content to tell his brothers and sisters to be healed, but lifts them from the ground and walks beside them towards a new life. A powerful teacher of thousands, an impressive learner who was prepared quickly to the tasks ahead of him, who did not stop to question "Can I actually do this?" because there simply wasn't time. A man that thirsted after and thrived to become a true disciple of Christ, and could envision nothing less for his life. So much so, he wept bitterly at the thought that he had failed in offering the fullest sacrifice of his heart.

The weight of Peter's tears has resonated with me deeply, and because I know something of their weight I feel as if I've made a new friend in the scriptures. Someone I cannot wait to see again, should I be counted worthy and blessed to be among the righteous who will rise to such great heights in the last day. A man of great personal integrity and leadership with whom I feel much kinship because of all that I've faced, and hope to continue to face in the name of my God, for it is an honor indeed to be called to suffer in the name of Jesus Christ.

You'll recall that I excitedly shared that I might be attending the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York a few posts back. To my disappointment, and even a bitter frustration, I discovered that there were no arrangements to be made that could possibly get me to Palmyra. Having prayed about that trip, I figured that I wouldn't face opposition for such a righteous desire. What could be better than wanting to go to the Sacred Grove and strengthen my witness of the most important revelation of modern Christendom? What could be better than to be in the only place I know of (outside of the temple) where Heavenly Father and His Son have stood together on the earth?

It's only just now that I have understood my answer to that plea.

I've been given an opportunity to attend a YSA conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania that will involve a trip to Harmony and the Priesthood restoration site. When I still had my eyes single to that journey to Palmyra, I wasn't willing to consider the Scranton conference as an alternative.

But understanding, even in a small portion, what I now do about having the Priesthood, and the men who brought it to the earth again, I can honestly say that I've been humbled and count myself as blessed to share in this experience that has been prepared for me.

Peter would have argued that his worth was nothing in comparison with Christ, and that's why he is Cephas, Petros, the rock upon whom Christ's church was built. I have much to learn from his example, and I pray that I might someday be even half the disciple he was.

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