Do you ever have days where you feel as if you are drowning a bit – days where the neglected bills are piled high, your house looks as if Hansel and Gretel had been wandering lost, toilets in desperate need of cleaning, or it’s 5:30 and the closest food is in Aisle 23 seven miles down the road? I mean really, life is life, and it is not all porch swings and shared tea with besties. We have all been there and will be there again (let’s pray with a bit more grace for ourselves the next time!) And we know in the grand scheme of life these frustrations are so minimal, yet when Satan is whispering lies he has a way of making the pot boil over to the point where we feel straight up burnt out. So here I am hands raised – yes! Many times those days can bring an overwhelming feeling of aloneness and some wondering of how to find purpose in it all.
I think of the disciples, after seeing Jesus crucified, with this overwhelming feeling of life spinning out of control in a very real, not minimal, way. This weary-hearted drowning in loneliness, fear and doubt. My thoughts go immediately to Peter – the disciple who was a devoted leader and even still denied his Lord, not once, but three times on Jesus’ way to the cross. I imagine the weight of Peter’s denials must have been bearing down on him in the quiet moments of hiding after Jesus’ death on the cross. Thoughts of shame creeping in that he once again caved to the fear of what he was up against. After walking in faith on the water, when his eyes caught sight of the wind and the waves, he was overcome. And after walking in faith all those years during Christ’s ministry, he was overcome by the voices in the crowd uniting him to the One who would endure the cross. I do not doubt that Satan took every opportunity to lead Peter towards shame and doubt in order to weaken his faith. I do not doubt that Satan rejoiced in Peter’s momentary failure to trust in the Lord because he knew if he could dismantle Peter’s trust in the Lord than Peter would be no threat in furthering the Kingdom of God to which he had been called. Praise the Lord Peter’s story does not end in the dark upper room following Christ’s death. Light enters in the form of Good News. From the lips of Mary he hears, the tomb is empty. With pounding feet and a racing heart, Peter, makes his way to the empty tomb, a miracle in the midst of sorrow. And because of His great love, Jesus in the days following the resurrection reveals Himself to the disciples. Peter witnesses the resurrected Christ two times and then in their third interaction comes one of the most moving parts of scripture. As a few disciples are fishing in a boat on the sea, they hear a man on the shore who calls out to them and as they are having a conversation regarding fish – John recognizes that this man on the shore is in fact, Jesus.
“When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.“
Threw himself into the sea.
The sea where he first encountered Jesus,
the sea, his livelihood, he gave up in order to follow Jesus,
the sea, by which he witnessed countless miracles,
the sea he walked out on in faith,
the sea where when distracted by the wind and waves, he sank in,
the sea where he cried to the Lord..”save me,”
the sea where he would again encounter Jesus in a way that would change him, restore him, and move him along to what was next. So Jesus came to be with His friends, share a meal as they had done countless times before and to restore Peter in the presence of the other disciples. Peter may have denied Jesus three times but Christ’s grace and restoration power was coming in this moment of meeting.
“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.'”
Not only did Jesus restore Peter from his shame but Jesus laid before him a purpose that he was to live out until the day he died. Jesus knew Peter, created in His image and chosen for a great purpose. Jesus knew Peter’s weaknesses and knew his strengths. And because Peter was in Christ, imperfect as he was, he was transformed.
“The contrast between Peter of the gospels–impulsive, unsteadfast, slow of heart to understand the mysteries of the kingdom–and the same apostle as he meets us in the Acts–firm and courageous, ready to go to prison and to death, the preacher of the faith, the interpreter of Scripture–is one of the most convincing proofs of the power of Christ’s resurrection and the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.” [E.H. Plumptre]
Peter is indeed a saint to be remembered. A man that many would have overlooked to be “the rock” of a coming Kingdom. A man decidedly devoted to the Lord who saved him and called him. A man who knew the Lord’s forgiveness, grace, mercy, and power. The Lord desires to bring all of creation back to His intended purpose. One soul at a time.
If in our weak moments we take our burdens to the Lord, the Word promises us that, His grace is sufficient, that His power is perfected out of our weakness. And our weakness is battled over in the heavenly places, but those in Christ are able to cry out to the Lord with full assurance that His grace is sufficient. He knows our fear, he knows our failure, he knows our needs and he has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. So let us rest in His promise. Because we too can often feel like we may be overlooked. In the mundane or routine life, we can be fooled into thinking what we do does not have purpose – this is a lie from the evil one. Let us say, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” We are called by Jesus, “follow me,” everyday. In the moments where we want to react out of frustration – “follow me.” In moments of desired selfishness, “follow me”. When we are dog-gone tired and burnt out, “follow me.” In the moments we feel alive and ready to usher in hope to the world around us, “follow me.” Our love will be imperfect, just as Peter’s was, but the Lord is faithful to continue making us like Christ. We cannot forget the transformative power of His presence. That He sees in us what we cannot see but what we can hope for because we are alive in Christ. We must remember the times He has led us and gone before us preparing us to walk in step with the Spirit. He is our Lord, our sustainer. He sees our hearts and He assures us in our faith, inviting us to walk on following Him the whole day through despite our brokenness or the brokenness around us. May we have great restoration from our weakness, great restoration from our suffering, great restoration from our trials. Let us lean on the knowledge that He restores ALL things. For His glory may it be with you.
“The threshing floors will be full of grain,
And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.
“Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
“You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
Then My people will never be put to shame.
“Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God,
And there is no other;
And My people will never be put to shame.”