Three

You didn’t think I would forget about our protagonist, Peter, did you? Never!

Okay, let’s go back to the scene. Annnnnd, cue.

Peter is fishing, but he isn’t having much luck. He hasn’t caught anything and neither has a single one of his companions. As dawn breaks on a new day, they hear a voice that they don’t seem to recognize right away.

“Children, do you have any fish?” (John 21:5, ESV)

Let’s back up the truck for a second. The first thing that strikes me is that He calls them “children.” Again, I’m not sure that the intention was to make readers smile, but I can’t help myself. I picture them out on the boat after a long night of unsuccessful fishing, and all of a sudden they hear a voice saying, “hey kiddos!” Although the NIV translation of the Bible uses the word “friend,” I think the ESV’s version is more accurate.

They tell the stranger they don’t have any fish and He suggests that they cast their nets on the right side of the boat instead. When they obey, they cannot even pull the nets onto the boat because of how heavy with fish they are. As soon as this happens, John shouts, “It is the Lord!”

When Peter hears this, he puts on an outer garment (evidently he was fishing in a less than appropriate outfit for greeting the Lord), and then?

“…he threw himself into the sea.” (John 21:7)

Wait.

Threw himself? Into the sea that had almost killed him?

Oh be still my heart. I love the imagery.

While the other disciples took the boat, dragging their load of fish, Peter jumped headfirst to get to Jesus. To be honest, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. How spectacular that moment must have been! Think about the way it came together to reveal the heart of God to all of us.

1. He was fishing, just as he had been when he met Jesus.

2. Jesus called to him, and he came immediately.

3. He threw himself into the water because he had firsthand experience with a God Who knew exactly how to pull him out, should he need help.

Isn’t it the same for us? Once we have seen the power of Jesus, we are much more likely to jump. Forget the fish and the nets. Who needs a boat? He’s here, and I’m going to get to Him now. The Greek word used here for “threw” means, “to give over to one’s care uncertain about the result.”

Immediately, he gives himself over to the One who saves him. Not only from the sea, but in order to preserve his soul for eternity. Wow.

And you know what? It makes me want to throw myself into the sea over an over again. Whatever it takes to get to the shore. Not because it’s safe.

But because He is there.

Although somewhere in the back of my mind, even though I know He’s there, I wonder about something else. What if He doesn’t receive me when I get to Him?

Do you ever feel like you crossed an invisible line in the sand? That you have finally pushed so hard that He’s just flat given up on you?

Remember at this point that Peter hasn’t seen (to our knowledge) Christ since the time of his denial. I wonder if he ever felt worried about what Christ would say to him?

Scripture says that when they got on land, there was a fire burning. I have a feeling this is just the way my mind works, but I want to know who made it. I mean, they were in the boat all night, so it wasn’t them. Are we to presume it was the Lord? I think He did, and I’m going to tell you why I think it might have happened that way.

The Lord asks Peter to go get the fish from the boat so they can cook them. He obeys. They eat their breakfast and when they are finished, Jesus turns His attention to Peter.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

One. 

“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Two.

“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Do you love me?”

Three.

“Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Why does Jesus ask Peter three times whether he loves Him? In one commentary I read, the author said it was the Lord’s way of forgiving Peter-once for each time Peter had denied Him. If that is the case, then I want to point out something that I find really interesting.

Here is the section of Scripture where Peter denies Christ:

“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.” (Luke 22:54-55)

Waiiittttt a minute. A fire?!?!?!

Now that sounds familiar, huh? I think it’s entirely plausible that the Lord’s usage of fire in the latter example was to remind Peter of the night he had sinned against Him. Not because He wanted him to suffer and cower to his shame, but because He wanted to restore him in an unmistakable way.  Fire is used in the Bible to represent God and purification…how beautifully appropriate.

I think Jesus likes to set a familiar table (Okay, you fish and I’ll call out to you. Then, there will be some fish and a fire. I’m going to remind you that I’m the God of healing and restoration, and then you’re going to go and get some real fish. Men. And you’re going to tell them exactly what I did for you, because you know what it feels like to dive in, chase after me, and be forgiven.) and then invite us to dine on His spectacular grace time and time again.

Do you think you have sinned one time too many?

He says it isn’t so, love.

Do you remember the way the water felt when you couldn’t breathe and you were all arms reaching and breath gasping? And do you remember when I pulled you out?

He didn’t come to save us from the water. He came to baptize us with His mercy. 

And our job is to throw ourselves into the water in obedience.

He asks me over and over if I love Him, and as my lips say “yes,” He calls me to be a fisher of men. To feed His sheep. To remember the night He restored me and called me His own, despite my sin and my regrets. It’s almost too much to bear. Who, Lord? Who am I to deserve another fire?

Here is what I would love for you to consider alongside me today. Has any part of your sin kept you from the cross? Has there been an opportunity for Satan to whisper to you and tell you that you’ve gone one step too far and that you can’t possibly be restored?

This isn’t the way the Lord sees you, friend.

His desire is for you to dive deep into the water. Leave your nets as many times as He asks you to and run where He calls you. In that place, you will be healed. And when you have been, I daresay you will have a story that is begging to be told.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus…” (Acts 4:13)

Be bold, sisters.

Jump.

Immediately.

One.

Two.

Three.

A Favor and A Little Gift From Me!

Hey friends! I was wondering if I could ask you a favor…

Have you read “What Women Fear?” If you liked it, and if you would be so kind, could you leave a review here on Amazon? It turns out it’s a good thing to have reviews and I told my publisher I would ask you.

If you do leave a review, please send your name/address and a link to the review to whatwomenfear@gmail.com and I will send you a signed bookplate for your book! It’s a small gesture but I really appreciate your time and support…

Thank you SO much.

Ang:)

Immediately

He had just cast his net into the sea when he heard a voice.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

He didn’t know the voice, but something about it must have compelled him, because he dropped his net immediately and followed the stranger.

Of all people in Scripture, I think I relate the most to Peter. He loves deeply, intensely, and with tremendous devotion.

But sometimes he says the wrong thing.

Okay, more than sometimes.

In any case, I think the word “immediately” used to describe his reaction to Christ could categorize a good bit of his thinking. He’s sort of clumsily “all-in” with his love.

He is the first of the disciples to pipe up when Jesus asks the disciples if they know who He is, and I imagine him responding a little like me as an eager middle-schooler, hand raised and ready to be praised for my answer. He’s impetuous, but he means well. Gold star, Peter.

One day I want to write a book on his life, because I feel so emotionally charged when I read about him. There are so many details that stir me to tears, because I feel like I’m there with him in it all.

In the water, net in hand.

I heard Him and I dropped what I had been clinging to, even though it was all I knew at the time. I really didn’t spend a lot of time worrying what I was going to do next, or where He was taking me. I’m either “all-in” or “not at all” myself.

Have you ever read the Bible and chuckled to yourself? I assure you, there is humor there if you allow yourself to imagine it. God is the Author of humor, and I genuinely believe He snuck in a few good one-liners for all of us who appreciate wit and timing (hand raised. Gold star, Angie).

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples He is going to wash their feet. It’s clearly a sacred and holy moment, and as He approaches Peter, Peter resists Him. He tells Jesus that He will never wash his feet (notice the use of the word “never.” We extremists like to jump there. You know, like, immediately.) I presume this statement was accompanied by head-shaking or some other physical motion to emphasize that it wasn’t going to happen. This was Jesus! The Son of God certainly didn’t need to be washing anyone’s feet. Peter saw that, and spoke up. Never. Never. NEVER. As in, not ever. Not now, not in a million years. It isn’t happening.

Well, Jesus responds to Him in approximately ten words and the next thing we hear Peter say is:

“Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9)

Umm, okay. So maybe never was a little bit strong. And now that I’ve had a few seconds to reconsider, let’s go ahead and do the whole shebang, huh? Why stop with the feet? If you want this to happen I’ll grab some shampoo and body wash and we’ll call it a day.

Sweet Peter. He goes from “never” to “head-to-toe” faster than most people can tie their shoelaces.

I get it. I mean, I totally, completely get it (totally, completely. Not that I’m extreme.)

If you heard my Women of Faith talk this year, you will already know one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible, and it involves Peter. If you want to read it, it happens in Matthew 14. The short version is that Jesus tells Peter to walk on water and he steps out of the boat in faith. Wouldn’t you just figure he was the one who called out to Jesus and then climbed into the impossible?

He does okay for a little bit. Step by step he gets closer to the Lord.

But then he realizes the waves are huge, and he doubts. He starts to drown.

Yep. Been there.

I’m going to skip some of my favorite details for the sake of brevity (and because I really do want to write a book and I think there is a lot more here than a blog post), but the next thing we know, Peter is reaching out to Jesus, asking Him to save him from the sea.

And I love this.

I LOVE THIS (I’m fairly certain Peter would have loved italics and bold, capital letters)

Scripture says this:

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” (Matthew 14:31)

Immediately. 

{Eutheōs}

We see this word approximately 30 times in the New Testament, and one of the other occasions is when we read about the way Peter responded when he first heard the voice of the Lord.

Remember? He immediately dropped his net to follow. No dilly-dallying. You called out to me and I responded right away. Jesus is doing the same here, and I can imagine that as His arm dove into the deep, Peter might have remembered what it was like to be a fishermen in desperate need of a Savior.

I know I do.

Peter wasn’t born with the name “Peter,” but rather, “Simon.” Jesus Himself named him Peter, meaning, “the rock.”

Does it surprise you at all that Jesus chose a man like Peter to be a “rock” of the faith? After all, let’s not forget what Peter had yet to do at this point. At the same dinner that Jesus washes his feet, He tells Peter that he will deny Him three times. Peter argues that passionately, saying he would rather die than deny Christ (Not just, “I won’t do that, Lord,” but “I WOULD RATHER DIE!” Well, at least he’s consistent).

I can’t help but wince when I read those words, because as we know, all the passion in that moment didn’t translate when Peter was on the spot a few hours later. He did, in fact, deny His Christ three times, and when he heard the rooster crow, he remembered the Lord’s words. He wept bitterly as he considered his betrayal.

Three times, he says he doesn’t know Him. And I’m sure he said it with all the intensity that characterized his life.  What must it have been like, on that dark night, as Peter considered that he had been too weak to defend his King? As the Lord was beaten, bloody, hung to die while mocked relentlessly-was Peter weeping over his actions somewhere else in the night?

We have no reason to believe he was at the crucifixion of Christ. Maybe he was still too terrified of what the crowds might do to someone who had been associated with Jesus. Or maybe he was swallowed by his shame, his regret too profound to even move towards the cross.

Have you ever felt a shame that told you that you weren’t worthy to be near the cross? I hasten to guess that you have. The enemy of our souls wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m afraid.

Regardless of where he was in that particular moment, it isn’t the last we will hear from Peter. Not by a long-shot, in fact. He will rise to become a great evangelist, proclaiming the name of Christ to people everywhere, no doubt in boldness. But what about in-between? Did this man ever wonder if he could truly be forgiven for his sin?

The risen Christ reveals Himself to Mary the Magdalene, who runs to tell the apostles. For the most part, they don’t believe her. But there is one who does.

“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24: 12

I would imagine it was immediately, wouldn’t you?

Maybe he had the same thought I have, many times over.

He is real.

And that means there is still a chance for me to dedicate the rest of my life to Him, no matter how many times I have failed Him in the past.

Just today, as I read the words I am about to share with you, I cried in the corner of a coffee shop over the power of what the Lord chose for Simon Peter. Suffice it to be said, God is a phenomenal writer-never missing the imagery and symbolism that brings you to your knees in worship. It’s not lost on me, and I pray it isn’t lost on you either.

Peter knows in theory that Jesus has risen from the dead. He has heard the stories and while he believes on some intellectual level, he hasn’t experienced Him in person. If this was a movie playing, wouldn’t you long to know what happened next? Wouldn’t you be curled up in your chair, wondering if he would ever have the chance to speak to Jesus again?

Maybe it’s just me. Say it’s not just me.

In the 21st chapter of John, we have the scene that, for me, sketches out the beauty of the Gospel in a way that no chapters of my own life can disagree with…

 

(To be continued very soon… I’m pretty sure 1500 words is well over the daily blog reading limit:) Oh how I love the word of God…)

What I’m Reading

I’m going to start doing these posts monthy-ish, because as  you might have noticed, I am a major bookworm. There is always a stack next to my bed that makes it look like I’m cramming for some kind of final exam and now that I have been traveling so much I have had a lot more time to read. I’m going to list what I’m reading and then invite you all to share the same with everyone else.

I’m always jumping from book to book so even though I will mention a bunch that doesn’t mean I have finished all of them, but these are some that are on my reading list right now:

 

What the Bible is All About by Henrietta Mears: I have read this one before but a new updated version just came out so I had to buy it. It is (in my opinion) the best of the best if you want to learn more about the Bible. Such incredible insights…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

 

And I picked this one up at the bookstore today and am already halfway through it. I have read some of her other books and have loved them as well. This one is already full of underlining and notes…really recommend it.

Just finished this-

And one of my all time favorites for quiet time…

And this last one I just ordered from Amazon tonight and I can’t wait to get it. I thumbed through it at the bookstore but it was a lot cheaper online so I have to wait t a few days to dig in.

It looks SOOOOO good. I read a few pages and was hooked!

 

What about you? Anything good on your nightstand these days? Any books you want to share with the class?

xoxo

angie

p.s. if you click over and order through amazon, I get a small percentage of your order price as a referral fee. Just so you know!

Equador!

Well, I was supposed to be in Ecuador right now with Compassion International. Can I even relate to you the level of disappointment I have about missing a trip with the following people? Kelly Stamps, Ann Voskamp, Boomama, Bigmama, and Amanda Jones.

Seriously.

And Compassion did the most amazing job of working out flights so that I could fly seamlessly between my speaking dates, but in the end I just hated to be gone that much given the fact that I’m already gone so much this season. But it sure makes me wish I could be in two places at once. Actually, three. Because Charlotte just woke up and I need to get her and finish this post.

I have shared lots in the past about my love for Compassion and what they do for children around the world, and by following along with these bloggers, you’ll get to see it all firsthand. It’s one thing to send off a letter or a check, but it’s entirely different to experience it in person.

A few weeks ago Abby was at a concert with Todd and wandered over to the Compassion table. She fell in love with the sweet face of a toddler and asked Todd if she could sponsor her. Todd explained that she would have to give her allowance and any other money she had, and that we would help her but it would be her responsibility. Moreover, it would be her sacrifice.

It wasn’t just a sweet face, it was a life that was about to be changed.

She consulted Ellie and they decided they would do it together. They have since roped in two friends, and they take it really seriously. Any time they find change, the first thing they say is, “My Compassion girl!”

I talk a big talk with them. Love God, love His people. Give it away for the kingdom. Don’t live without acknowledging how fortunate you are. And don’t think for one second that your contribution doesn’t matter….because the Lord makes miracles out of our offerings and multiplies our efforts in ways we can’t imagine.

But do they see me walk the walk? I would like to think they do. But I also know that I’m as prone to selfishness and apathy as the next person.

I’ll be totally honest with you.

Until my trip to India with Compassion a few years ago, I had all but learned to tune out the sound of anyone asking for money. Not that I didn’t think there were people who needed it, but I had suspicions about organizations. We might not all get to travel and see it firsthand, but for those of us who have, there is a feeling of compulsion to share.

It really is exactly what you would hope it is.

It’s a group of people who believe they can change the face of poverty and are doing the work of the Gospel in some of the hardest places imaginable.

You have the opportunity today to change the life of a little girl or boy, and I promise you this.

It matters.

Not just to that child, but maybe for your own children. Maybe to a watching world who wants to know if Christians really put their money where their mouths are. Would you prayerfully consider whether or not God is asking you to be a part of Compassion’s ministry by sponsoring a child? Click on the little button below to follow along with the bloggers in Ecuador right now. If the first day is any indication, they are in for a life-changing experience.

And for those of us who can’t be there in the flesh, lets be praying for them and for the work the Lord is doing through them. Here is a picture from Melanie’s (Bigmama) blog from today….

I just love her little wave and that giant backpack. Click over to her blog to read the whole story.

I’ll just say that on the latter part of the trip there is a lot of jungle activity coming up. I’m pretty sure none of us want to miss that experience :) So stay tuned online and prayerfully consider the role you could have in a child’s life today.

I clicked on Kelly’s link to these kiddos and melted when I saw how many had been waiting for 6 months or longer for a sponsor. Just click over and see if God stirs your heart for one of them. Or 15 of them. Whatever.

So in the event that you haven’t picked up on it (because subtlety has always been a gift of mine), I would love for you to consider sponsoring one of these little munchkins.

Right now.

This second.

It matters.

 

Compassion Bloggers: Ecuador 2011