The story is told of a first mate on a sailing ship who wanted to become like the captain, who was an imposing, respected patriarch of the sea. Noticing that at certain times on the bridge, the Captain would unlock a private drawer, glance at something inside, then relock it before giving a command, the mate became convinced that the drawer contained the secret of nautical success. One morning when the Captain stepped away without locking up, the mate slipped over and looked inside. There was a single piece of paper on which were written only four words: STARBOARD = Right; PORT = Left.
Wisdom comes with age but this does not mean that age does not need wisdom. We all need help in every stage of life. The apostle Peter walked with Jesus and became one of His closest companions. He was with Jesus when the Lord was transfigured (Matthew 17:1) and was only one of three allowed in the house of Jairus to raise from the dead the young child. It was Peter, James and John that accompanied the Savior in the garden to pray. The day of Pentecost was a powerful testimony of the gospel of a risen Lord when Luke records Peter’s moving sermon. Three thousand Jews became Christian’s that day.
Acts 3 Peter and John heal the lame man and Peter preaches another powerful sermon “in the porch which is called Solomon’s (v11). They are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 where Peter boldly proclaims, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Acts 5 the apostle Peter is receiving the benevolence of the brethren when Ananias and Sapphira are struck dead for lying to God. Peter and John go to Samaria and preach the gospel with many souls obeying (Acts 8). Cornelius, a gentile, learns the truth of salvation by Peter who comes to his house to “tell him words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 10; 11:14). Finally Herod kills James and arrests Peter planning to put him to death (Acts 12). An angel frees Peter that night.
Looking at the life of Peter one can see courage, sometimes lacking faith but moments of great victory in being a person of God. It is later when Paul is writing to the churches of Galatia that we find that Peter needed help. “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews’” (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul goes on to further rebuke Peter before them all.
Peter was an apostle. He was a first responder of Jesus Christ. He walked on water. He was present when the Lord raised the dead, healed the sick, fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish; four thousand with seven loaves and a few fish and so many more miracles. But Peter needs to know that STARBOARD is Right and PORT is Left. Leadership is always remembering the need for help. Our lives are always in need of the word of God. With the influence of sin no man is safe without anchoring their lives on the word of God.
The Bible reveals that great men of faith still struggle with the challenges of sin. Abraham lied about Sarah (Genesis 12 & 20), Moses did not give God the glory (Deuteronomy 32:48-52), David murdered Uriah after committing adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) and Peter fell prey to the prejudice of his day. Paul himself unlocked the door of his personal life when he told the Romans of his personal demons (Romans 7:13-25). What person of God today does not need to go to the word of God and drink more deeply the truths of eternal redemption?
Like the captain in the story we need to have the right focus and a reminder to help us sail through the troubled seas of life. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17) but our faith is never complete and the word of God will never cease to open new doors of wisdom from the mind of God. One of the great stories of the Bible is that no matter how many years you examine its sacred pages you will never glean all the truths contained within its eternal message. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).