I’ll never forget banging my head against the wall when I came to the end of my first book, May You Live in Christ: Spiritual Growth Through the Vision of St. Peter. How to finish a book may be every author’s worst nightmare. More to the point, how do you stick a fork in it and say “it’s done?” Trust me, after all the time and energy that went into the book, it is nice to have a smooth finish. It is like landing a plane. Most passengers only remember the landing. Same with pilots!
It was a Sunday morning and I don’t want to say the clouds parted for me, but it was a revelation of sorts that broke through my thick skull when I heard that still, small voice, whisper to me the word “benediction.” Finish the book with a benediction. Sure enough, after church I went back to the drawing boards and within minutes the words of Peter flowed.
First, a little Latin. The word “benediction” is derived from the two words bene and dictum, which when translated simply means “good word.” Thus, the final chapter. And with it, I took from Peter’s letter, his farewell and good words, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). It doesn’t get any better than that.
The reminder from Peter — especially from Peter — is the call to grow. If you have been following me through previous blogs, Peter was known for being compulsive, conflicted and vacillating time and time again. What is so true of Peter is that in many ways he represents an archetype or stereotypical figure who is symbolic for us all. There are days and there are days where we don’t have it all together. But the beauty of spiritual growth is we do learn and we do change and yes, we do mature. Peter’s vision of life-in-Christ (Vivatis in Christo!) really does transform our spiritual growth into an objective reality that is capable of bearing fruit and offering gifts to a world in need. As a result of being in-Christ we live life, like never before.
And this is where the good words of grace and knowledge interrelate and are inextricably bound together. In other words, we don’t hold on to one word without the other. As we experience the grace of God, we know God who is at work in our lives. And this is “eternal life, that they may know you” (John 17:3). What we know then are the attributes and character of God who is revealed in Christ and whose eternal life is given to us through grace.
One final thought. When you look at the picture on the cover of my book, it is the statue of Peter on the top of the basilica in Rome. In his hand he is holding the keys to the kingdom. Consider, one key is for you. It is personally designed to fit and unlock your heart. It is the key that turns our life in Christ into a blessing, or a benediction, that is made available right now.