One common ice breaker that I have seen used in almost every Christian group setting I have ever been in is the question "which Bible character best describes you?"
I have always wanted to say Mary, the mother of Jesus because she pondered things in a heart of faith and believed God without doubting. She was the perfect mother--why else would God have picked her, right? She had stolen the heart of an extremely honorable man which tells me that there were many feminine qualities that were well developed in her. Or perhaps Esther because she was beautiful inside and out but had a strength and courage rarely found. There is Ruth, who left all that she knew to follow another into poverty hardship because of love, duty, and family. And then there is the Proverbs 31 woman, the woman of perfection, as some think. A woman of discretion, who plans ahead, and who sees and meets the needs of those around her. Yes, I wish that I could identify my life most with these women.
When asked this question though, in all honesty, I have to say that I can most identify with the Apostle Peter. I am not apostolic in any way. Some say that I am "a pistol", but I don't believe that is the feminine version of "apostle"!
I identify with Peter on many levels. When I picture him, I picture some big, strapping man with a dark tan, bulging muscles and a quick, loud laugh. I'm sure that his wife probably found him to be a lot of fun. I'm big, have a dark tan in the summer, I do have muscles, but they aren't bulging and I laugh about literally everything--something I've been told by some is not becoming, but not my husband. He appreciates my sense of humor even when it hurts. And considering some of the things we've been through, we had two choices--laughter or despair. And I see that Peter had some things in his life that weren't all that becoming as well, but he was still was part of Jesus' inner circle.
Looking over his life, I would say that Peter was a hard worker, very zealous and passionate, and very compassionate (hey, the dude actually requested prayer for healing for his mother in law). But his zeal level seemed to rise above the level of his wisdom at times and he often blundered into situations like a bull would blunder into a china shop. Peter was one of those who could not watch with Christ, even for one hour. It was Peter who denied Jesus three times, even tucking his tail and running from a little servant girl. It was Peter who rebuked the Lord himself because he let his compassion override his discernment.
He certainly had his shining moments though! It was Peter who first came to the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah. It was Peter who recognized the holiness of the moment when he witnessed the transfiguration. It was Peter who inquired about an explanation to parables instead of acting like he totally got it. It was Peter that walked on water! Peter was the one Jesus sent to do something important and necessary when he sent him to find the coin in the mouth of a fish. It was Peter who pledged his undying loyalty to Christ openly. It was Peter who was ready to take on the whole Roman guard accompanying Judas on the night Jesus was betrayed. It was humble Peter who fell at Jesus feet declaring his unworthiness. It was Peter, who after being filled with the Holy Spirit stood and told the religious leaders of his day that they had sinned by killing the Messiah, and who, after being beaten for his proclamations, went right back out and did it again, and again, and again, until he too, hung on a cross of death.
It wasn't until today, thanks to a radio preacher that I ever really saw something about Peter. The times that he really shone, he was either in the proximity of Christ in the flesh, or he was filled with the presence and in the the proximity of the Spirit of Christ-the Holy Spirit. On his own, Peter was doomed to failure. But when Peter was close to Jesus he was strong, courageous, full of wisdom, a git-er-done kind of guy. He didn't mince words and try to schmooze the religious leaders. And he became one of the most respected leaders of the first century church. From fisherman (I never bought into the idea that he was dumb. He had a thriving business and servants that worked for him) to fisher of men. He was successful on many levels.
I guess the thing I see and most appreciate about Peter is that he never seemed to be the type that tried to appear as something he wasn't. He was just himself, even in his blunderings. And I like that about him. He needed Jesus and he knew it. He wasn't to proud to honestly realize that without Christ, he was sunk. But he also understood that "he could do all things through Christ, who strengthened him."
I want to be more like Peter. I don't care about making a name for myself, but I certainly would like to represent the name of Jesus in a powerful way. I realize that in my flesh I too am impulsive, driven by emotion, ruled by the characters of my personality, and weak under pressure. I often run to fix things instead of sitting back, examining them, and waiting on instruction from the Lord concerning them. I am quick to want to defend when someone or something I love is attacked or threatened when more peaceable means might be in order. But like Peter, I am genuine in my love for Christ. I am what I am. What you see is what you get. I have a lot of zeal and yes, sometimes it gets me into trouble, but as a very wise Pastor once said, "it's easier to stop a wild horse than to get a stubborn mule moving."
So I am encouraged once again to keep the main thing the main thing. Just Christ. Nothing else. Just doggin' on the heels of Christ, not letting Him out of my sight. Not looking left or right. Just watching Him. Following Him. Loving Him. Communing with Him. Being in His presence 24/7.