Its been a few weeks since we have written and shared anything through the website. Honestly as I think about it this whole summer break thing has thrown a wrench in my life that I was unprepared for to say the least. Working at home is great but throwing four kids back into your work environment has been challenging. I have always struggled with balance between all areas of my life. A trusted friend shared with us that life is comparable to a teeter-totter. You are always trying to find the center of balance but seldom do you stay there long……you’ll spend most of the time moving from one end to the other trying to find the middle sweet spot. I can’t seem to find the sweet spot lately…but I haven’t stopped trying!
This past weekend my wife’s parents said they would take all 4 kids for the weekend! Brave people!! Andrea and I were in a quiet house for 2 entire days! It was kind of eerie…..We went to a Casting Crowns concert on Saturday evening that totally took me by surprise of how God would use that night. I love the group and have seen them several times so I expected a great concert, but God took that night to shake me a bit. When Mark Hall, (lead singer) shared the background to his songs and what God stirred in his heart….it was as if God was speaking directly to me. Emotions overcame me that night time after time, song after song.
Among all the things spoke that night were:
“Our purpose here is two fold…We are to know God more so God can be known by more”
“Religion is trying to be a Christian without Jesus”
“It’s not about us doing more good, but more about the good Jesus has already done for us”
The one that pierced my heart was John 21. It is the story of Jesus’ relationship with Peter. He was one of Jesus’ close disciples. Peter gave up his career of fishing abruptly after the day that Jesus stunned him by producing a miraculous catch of fish on a day that seemed to be ending in despair. Jesus asked Peter to come follow Him and live a life of “fishing for men.” Jesus spent 3 years of His life pouring into Peter all that He could. Peter experienced first hand countless miracles of healing and death being overcome. He himself even walked on water! Yet in Jesus’ darkest time he deserted, abandoned and even denied he knew Jesus. We ask how could He see all of those things and still lack the faith to stand with Jesus in His agonizing time.
The part of the story that grabs me is the point when Jesus is being led away, Peter has denied he even associated with Jesus, then they both lock eyes on one another. No words were exchanged…..no words had to be exchanged.
Only hours before Peter proclaimed to Jesus that he would never abandon him. That he would die with him if that is what it took.
How many times had I said words of commitment to someone or something that I would later regret for not following through or turn against my intentions. My natural reaction to this is immense amounts of guilt and shame. That feeling of wishing I could go back in time to change my decisions.
What was Peter’s reaction to that moment when Jesus looked directly into Peters eyes? Peter knew what He had just done….Failed to keep His word with His closet friend and Lord…Guilt, Shame, and Failure
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and Peter 2 times. Even though Peter had seen Jesus, there was still a separation in their relationship. He felt that friendship could not be restored. His betrayal of Christ was irreconcilable.
The shame and guilt was a burden He was unable to carry. It paralyzed Him and led him back to His former life. When our life is on shaky ground where do you run. We most often go to what’s familiar and comfortable. Peter went back to fishing.
For years I struggled deeply with an addiction to pornography. I would feel that closeness to God when I was doing well, but then I would sin more and create a deeper separation from His presence. I allowed the enemy to speak lies into my mind and heart.
This was my consequence for years of bad choices.
I wasn’t worthy of having a relationship with God anymore.
I had sinned one too many times to be able to be forgiven.
I was past the point of forgiveness.
ALL LIES FROM THE ENEMY!
The story doesn’t end though. The amazing thing about Jesus is that He pursues relentlessly.
He knows that Peter is avoiding Him.
He knows our guilt and shame is causing a fissure in the relationship He longs for with us.
He knows that we drift towards what is comfortable and familiar.
So What does Jesus do? He meets us in our place, He follows us to the point we will most clearly see Him!
For Peter, Jesus finds him back in the fishing boat, not catching a single fish again just like 3 years prior. Jesus doesn’t use some new ministry strategy, He simply used the same line….throw your nets on the side of the boat! The same results happen….a catch so plentiful it breaks the nets!
When Peter finally realizes its Jesus, He knows that he can hide no longer…..He dives in the water and swims to shore.
For me, I ran for years hiding my sin and hiding my heart from Jesus. Of course on the outside I “played” the part of a Christian. I said the right things and served for Him, but rarely did have that deep intimate relationship with Him that I desired.
He kept pursuing me……It wasn’t till I was living in a camper separated from all that knew that I ”jumped in the water and swam to HIM.” I had nothing left, my choices got me to this point and I then realized that only HIS choice to save me would move me from this place.
When Peter met Jesus on the beach that day. Jesus could have said:
Why did you lie to me?
How could you deny me not once but 3 times?
I died for you and yet you could not stand with me? You coward
I can’t imagine having a friendship with you again after what you did!
No, He only asked him a question? Do you love me? Then when Peter said yes, He commissioned him to take care of His people. That’s the amazing part, when Christ has all rights to condemn he loves and rebuilds. He doesn’t condone, enable or coddle. He rebuilds, renews and restores!
He could have said to me in the camper:
You have no place in my family anymore
You broke your marriage vows
You allowed the enemy right into the fabric of your family
Your word and witness to others has been severely destroyed
Your reflection of WHO I AM has been distorted and damaged
Instead He said:
Turn from your life of Sin
Now we can build on my solid foundation.
You are still my child
There is work to be done but I can help you
You are not too far gone
I will rebuild, renew, and restore you!
So, no matter where you are today Jesus is still pursuing your heart. He wants all of it. Maybe the whispers you here are ruling your thoughts. Mabye the guilt and shame of your choices is keeping your from running to Him. Don’t hide or run away anymore. The enemy wants you to believe that its too late….God says its never too late. He will meet you where you are!!