A couple of months ago I read a two-part post that Angie Smith wrote about the apostle Peter. Those posts came back to mind after a conference speaker this past weekend also spoke about the life, personality, and ministry of the apostle. The combination of the two brought me to look back for myself to the words in John 21 this week. I encourage you read it too just to get the overall sense.
Here's the background: Immediately leading up to this chapter, Peter has denied Jesus three times right before Jesus's crucifixion, Jesus has died and was buried. Side-note: I think it's interesting to note that Peter had cut off the ear of a Roman guard in defense of Jesus only hours before he claimed he never knew him. And when pressed, he emphatically denied being Jesus' follower. This little glimpse gives you a sense for Peter's nature
In the beginning of chapter 21, Peter, John, and several other disciples have gone out fishing after Jesus died and they thought (naturally) that Jesus was gone; going back to what they did before they were called by Him. Maybe they went back to what they knew out of necessity, and I'm taking a little interpretive license here - but maybe out of disappointment? Maybe for Peter it was out of shame. Maybe out of a place --and this take on it hits close to home for me --of self-sufficiency, that pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality that can be really destructive in our spiritual lives. Perhaps they went back to fishing thinking: If He wasn't the One, if His promises weren't true, then I better get back to depending on myself. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that they went back to the thing they knew.
So, they were out fishing, unsuccessfully mind you, but back in their comfort zones, and Jesus appears on shore. I find it somewhat interesting that John - the one Jesus loved (the one who KNEW Jesus loved him, identified himself as the one Jesus loved) recognized Jesus first, but impetuous Peter was the first to jump in and swim to Him.
One of Angie's posts tells the story well from there - there's a fire, fish, and redemption in the truest, most merciful illustration I know. It's in the midst of that redemption and restoration that Jesus reminds Peter that fishing in the Sea of Galilee wasn't the story Jesus was writing for Peter. Back when he called Peter, Jesus declared -perhaps to the complete amazement of all who knew him --that Peter was and would be the Rock. I imagine those who knew Peter thought, seriously? Jesus, do you know anything about this man? Peter is the epitome of all or nothing. He is your fiercest defender. Until he denies that ever knew you, right? And of course, Jesus did know all of this. He knew what Peter was, but even more so, He knew who he was making Peter to be.
In spite or -- because of? -- all of this, that story that Jesus was writing was not going to be deterred or derailed -- even by Peter's three-time denial of the Lord. Though Peter went back to what he knew before he was called by Jesus because of his shame, or out of necessity or desperation, Jesus did not abandon the story He had for Peter.
He drew him back to that story in Love, Grace, and Mercy.
Forgive me if I'm assuming too much here, but I imagine the same story rings true in some way in your life.
Surely you felt called to a bigger story, perhaps to writing, sharing, drawing others in before you were even aware of the way the Lord would use those things for His Gory. Though you didn't know it at the time, you can look back on the road God led you along and see that God always had a story for you.
You may have denied, seemed to derail, tried to fill in the blanks, go back to the comfort, to the easier path, maybe you just missed it for years -- but He has never abandoned your story. He has never abandoned the story He has for you. Deuteronomy 4:31.
In the same way that people must have wondered what Jesus was thinking to call Peter a Rock in the first place, and without question must have thought His Restoration of Peter on the shore of Galilee was ill-advised -- maybe you've had doubters along your road -- maybe you've been your own doubter -- rest assured dear friend that His eyes see you as He saw Peter: His image-bearer who will display His Glory in spite of and because of the journey He's walked with you.