Jesus said to Peter, 18“Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18-19
These verses appear immediately following the refrain from my previous post, when Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. Jesus pulls Peter back into his inner circle and tells him clearly what following him will mean. It’s not a life of glory but a life that walks directly to the cross. And by following Christ, Peter will painfully give up his life. There are no surprises with Jesus. He tells Peter exactly what he’s getting into.
The world teaches us maturity equals independence, self-sufficiency, power, and control. Jesus teaches us maturity in faith equals a willingness to let go. It’s surrendering to being led, stretching out our hands and allow God to fasten a belt around our waists–a belt that will pull us where we don’t want to go. Loving God isn’t a practice in forcing emotion or cognitive acceptance. Loving God is a complete practice in letting go; it’s giving up dreams, risking vulnerability, crossing boundaries, facing fear. We do this with the confidence that the One who loves us completely holds us firmly around our waists, like a parent steadying a newly-walking baby or running behind a tippy, frightened, exhilarated new bike rider. We may not like where we’re going, but at least we’re going.