Before Peter Pan became the forever young hero, he was an orphan in London. Then one dark night the evil Blackbeard kidnapped him and spirited him away to Neverland, to work in the mines there, digging for fairy dust. In captivity there Peter meets the resourceful James Hook, who sees that he can fly, and plots a way out for both of them.
Peter has a problem, he has only just discovered he can fly and he’s not sure he can do it again. But this does not stop him being creative and courageous, if he can’t fly them to safety, then he’ll try other means.
Peter struggles to believe he can fly, even though he has done it once. There are lots of things about the Christian life that many of us struggle to believe, even if we have experienced them from time to time. We have a new identity in Jesus, we are forgiven, we have hope, purpose and good news to share. I know these things are true, but sometimes struggle to hang onto them. Flying on eagle’s wings (as Isaiah once put it) does not come as second nature. I find myself frequently bumping my chin on the ground, and crash-landing on various occasions.
When I was a young Christian I imagined I would gradually improve at the various tasks expected of me. Praying, worshipping, evangelism. That kind of thing. But like Peter Pan, I have struggled to fly. These things have not come easily, in fact they are probably more difficult than ever now. And I frequently wrestle with myself about my inability and failures. Which just makes things worse really. I’m grateful for the honest tales in the Bible about the followers who were sometimes successful, and sometimes not. Moses losing his temper with a rock, Abraham losing courage in Egypt, Gideon losing the plot altogether as he took matters into his own hands. It’s liberating to know that God has always worked with folks a bit like me. Some have a lot of faith and courage, but many do not. I am grateful for Psalm 103 verses 13 and 14, which tell assures us that God is like a compassionate father gracious and full of understanding, because he knows what we’re made of, and he knows how weak we are. I might have the odd spot of flying ahead, I hope so, but I’m fairly certain that there’ll be days of crash-landing too.