Successful transition depends on not allowing resistance to hold you back
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (Acts 10:9–16)
What was this thing in my house? My airborne jumpmaster-wannabe husband had brought home a semblance of a mannequin strapped with a packed parachute. He said he had to practice the steps of inspecting a paratrooper’s parachute. I watched him move his hands over the training aid while speaking military nomenclature aloud. He did this over and over and over. Military wives are accustomed to watching their husbands do repetitive processes for the purpose of precision.
In the incident with Peter, a voice accompanied his vision of a sheet that held all types of animals, reptiles, and birds descending to earth. The voice instructed Peter to kill and eat the animals not once, not twice, but three times. Unlike my husband in training, God did not repeat the vision three times for the purpose of precision, but for persuasion. The command to kill animals and eat them may seem like a no-brainer to our Western mindset. However, Jewish law prohibited Peter from eating meat that was not kosher. The command went against Peter’s lifelong training and practice.1 For the Jews, food restrictions were not about etiquette or being a picky eater. Adherence to the strict dietary laws was a matter of survival and identity.2 Peter cringed at the thought of desecrating the dietary laws.3 He burst out, “No way!” The vision had everything to do with a major transition the Lord wanted to take place in Peter’s life. Peter’s response shows his resistance to that transition.
Successful transition depends on not allowing resistance to hold you back. God was already at work in this transition from Cornelius’s end. His men were journeying to find Peter and would soon be knocking on his door. Digesting the meaning of the vision went against every fiber of Peter’s Jewish heritage, but he did not allow resistance to become disobedience. When the Gentile men sent by Cornelius arrived, Peter invited them into his home. He took a major step in this monumental transition by not recoiling at the idea of sharing food and lodging under the same roof with Gentiles. Through his obedience to the vision from God, he opened the door to receive Gentiles into the fellowship of the church.4
God repeated the vision to Peter three times to persuade him to embrace this change. He knew the transition would not be easy for Peter. How many times does God prompt you before you embrace a significant change? My goal as a Christ-follower is to be someone the Lord can lead through change with a heart that is open to transition. What about you?
Oh, by the way, repetition paid off for my husband. He passed the Jumpmaster Course as a milestone, eventually earning the status of Master Parachutist. He got a wreath around the star on his jump wings to be worn on his uniform, and I did not resist the jewel he added to the jump-wings necklace to be worn around my neck!
When have you resisted transition? Was the transition physical or spiritual? What were the reasons for your resistance?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart, that I may know the hope to which you have called me, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of your power toward me, according to the working of your great might. Amen. (See Ephesians 1:18–19)
1 John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001), 197.
2 William H. Willimon, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Acts (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988), 96.
3 French Arrington, The Acts of the Apostles (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2004), 178.
4 Arrington, 181.