I am a terrible follower. I'm an even worse passenger. I hate being out of control. I hate not knowing where were going. It isn't that I don't trust someone else to lead or to drive or to instruct, it is just that I'd rather do it myself.
This makes being a disciple very difficult, but don't take my word for it. Peter learns very quickly and very harshly how incongruent it is to be a disciple in the driver seat.
Peter wants to be in control. He is fine with Jesus being the Messiah, but that anointedness comes with a certain set of expectations that do not, in any way, include Jesus being arrested much less killed. Peter is so worked up, it seems as though he can't even hear Jesus finish his thought: the whole, rise on the third day lynch pin to the Incarnation gets lost in translation. Jesus rebukes Peter, "Get behind me Satan!" Or, as I like to imagine it "Follow my plan, my route, my way! Let me sit in the driver seat, Peter, I've got it under control."
As the bumper sticker above says, Peter's in the wrong seat, and often, so am I. A good friend of mine has just been formally accepted into the discernment process for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. As I talk with him about "the process" it brings back all sorts of memories that are deeply wedged into the recesses of my mind. I'm reminded of the thousand ways I tried to hijack the process from God's hand in order for it to fit the way I wanted it to work. I'm reminded of all the times that I fought to get my hand on the yoke, only to send the plane into a sputtering tailspin while begging God to take over again. I pray he doesn't struggle in the same way.
It is really hard to be a control freak and be a disciple, but, it is possible. Jesus graciously invites us to hand over the reigns and follow his lead. Jesus gracefully leads us forward into the unknown. Jesus mercifully forgives us each and every time we wrestle control away from him (even if that mercy feels a lot like an angry rebuke).
What about you? Are you any good at following?