I was in over my head. Right after my high school graduation, I got a job on a roofing crew to make some money before I started my freshman year in college. I was literally a boy among men. The work was tougher than I’d ever imagined it would be. The men I worked alongside were rugged and mean. The hauled an eighty pound bundle of shingles up a ladder like it was cotton candy. They fearlessly sat on the edge of a roof, a cigarette hanging from one side of their mouth as they drove nails into the shingle with two blasts of their hammer.
I felt out of place and their looks told me I didn’t belong. I did my best to keep up and to stand on my own.
After about a month of working under their close watch, I was sent out to get a job started on my own. I was eager to prove myself. My job that morning was to begin tearing off the old shingles on a roof while the rest of the crew was finishing another job.
When I got up on the roof, I decide that I was going to impress them all. I skipped my breaks and tore off shingles with reckless abandon. This would be a day that they would remember. By lunch I had done the work of two men. I had gotten much further than the crew chief said that I would and I was feeling very proud. Neighbors walking by must have been impressed at what they had witnessed that day.
Finally, I looked saw the trucks with the rest of crew coming down my street. I couldn’t wait to see their faces as I stood like a conquering hero on the peak of the roof. This would be a moment they would remember. And indeed it was!
The first truck stopped in front of the house and my boss got out. He slammed the truck door screaming, “What are you doing?!!” It was at that moment I realized that something was not right. The other workers began to laugh. Slowly at first, but then it was all out laughter.
In my excitement to show these guys that I had what it took to do this tough work, I tore off the wrong roof. I misread the address and ripped the shingles off of the neighbor’s house. Needless to say, we ended up roofing two houses next to each other that week.
My attempt to try to prove that I was more than I was failed. My mistake was on display for everyone to see. I wanted to crawl under a rock.
Maybe this is why I have such affection for the Apostle Peter. So often he did things that showed his human frailty, including impulsiveness, zeal, and stubbornness (i.e. Cutting of a soldier’s ear. Denying knowing Jesus after swearing he would die with Him. Refusing to let Jesus wash his feet).
It is no wonder that, after watching Jesus perform a miracle by filling the boat with fish, Peter suddenly became aware of his true self and the sin in his life. He fell at the feet of Jesus and said “Go away from me, Lord: I am a sinful man!”
But Jesus responded to Simon Peter by saying, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people.” Rather than berating Peter for his shortcomings, He invited him to join him in his mission and used Peter powerfully, both his strengths and weaknesses.
When Peter was at the feet of Jesus on top of a heap of slimy fish, he had the holy gift of compunction. Compunction is the ability to recognize our true inner self and to feel deep regret about our own sin. He came to realize Jesus was the Reconciler, Restorer, and Redeemer. He alone is the One that can take sin away and use our mistakes for His glory.
In today’s culture, because we place such great value on a high self-esteem and being a “self-made” person, we often forget about compunction. But this is exactly what changed everything for Peter.
Recognizing sin and bringing it to God is what frees us. In that moment God says, “Okay. Don’t be afraid. Now come and join my mission. I can use everything you are for good, even the not so great attributes. And on top of that, you’re forgiven.”
How’s your compunction? Will you open yourself up to God allowing Him to bring full reconciliation so He can use you powerfully?
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn, Father of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries