There Is Still A Place For You

I almost went to bed without posting about our Thursday Devotional –There Is Still A Place For You. So glad I stayed up! This one’s my favorite…

Let’s call our John 21 scene, Peter’s Restoration.

John 21 opens after Risen Jesus had sent his disciples to Galilee to wait for Him there. I wonder if Peter got impatient waiting for Jesus to show up. Maybe he thought, “I walked out on Jesus. I deserve to be a fisher of fish, not a fisher of men” So he took his friends and went fishing. The men are tired, hungry and defeated after an unsuccessful night of fishing. And this is when Jesus reveals himself to the men. I wonder what Jesus saw in Peter as he stared at the men from the shore. Well from what I read it seems Jesus was thinking, “I need this guy. But he feels unworthy of this calling.” In the gray early dawn the fishermen see a man on the shore who told them to try again on the other side of the net. You can just hear Peter muttering under his breath, “Hey buddy, ya don’t think we tried that!?” Which is fine but that’s no ordinary man on the shore. So he let down the net anyway and …“When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:7) Immediately they knew it was Jesus. Peter jumps out of the boat to swim to shore. He cares nothing of the catch. This all seems so familiar and now Peter knows that Jesus hasn’t abandoned him.

This whole scene is very reminiscent of Luke 5:1-11, when Jesus first called Peter to be his disciple. We’ll call this scene Peter’s Calling and read that here below.

Then we will compare Peter’s Calling with Peter’s Restoration. Never underestimate God’s ability to set a scene. He is clearly showing off in this circumstance!

Luke 5:1-11 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (sea of Galilee), the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

In both instances Jesus requests that the men throw their nets for a catch against their professional judgment.

In both instances there is a miraculous catch! Though I’m not sure what to make of the issue of nets breaking in Peter’s calling in Luke 5 and the opposite as noted in John 21:11 with no torn nets even with such a heavy catch.   Perhaps the nets reflect 1)the brokenness (“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”) that we see in Peter’s calling and 2)Peter being “held together” by Jesus as he is restored. Hmmm. A girl can wonder.

Back to John 21:15. Take note that Jesus calls Peter by his pre-disciple name, Simon son of John. Not Peter, the Rock. Peter would have noticed this. Maybe the nets didn’t break but Peter’s heart was going to as Jesus initiates a necessary conversation with him…

“…by the third time Jesus asks whether he loves him, Peter is hurt, that is, deeply grieved (elypethe). Jesus’ asking three times recalls the three denials, and Peter’s pride is cut to the quick. Here we see the Great Physician performing painful but necessary surgery. The light is shining in the darkness of Peter’s heart, bringing life, the repentance that enables one to experience the Lord’s love and salvation. Without such brokenness we are full of self and unable to hear and receive the guidance of the Chief Shepherd.” Quoted from commentary resources on Bible Gate.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from http://www.biblegateway.come/ resources/ivp-nt/Jesus-Forms-Peter-as-Leader-as-Disciple.

The mission is clear in both scenes. Jesus wants Peter to leave fishing behind and be a part of the ministry. There are so many similarities with Peter’s call and Peter’s restoration. Jesus really is taking Peter back to the beginning!

If only we could see what the Lord was doing when our lives take us to what seems to be familiar old ground. To a place we’ve been to before and thought we had mastered and moved on from. What is that old familiar ground for you? I guess mine would be “getting over myself” so that I can truly follow Jesus. I think that’s why I enjoy reading about Peter so much. Jesus needed Peter to not allow his past mistake keep him from the work that Jesus had for Him.

Ok I couldn’t resist. While writing this post I had these words rattling around in my head. Can you guess where they are from?…I am waiting for you, Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning… so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I will stay. I will not be moved!When the job went wrong you went back to the beginning. Well, this is where we got the job, so this is the beginning. And I am staying till Vizzini comes.”

Please click this link to watch 2 minutes of Inigo Montoya “going back to the beginning” You know, from the movie The Princess Bride. Ladies the sooner you learn this the better… I am fluent in movie quotes. (I’m hoping you can forgive me for lumping Inigo and Peter in the same blog post!)

I’ll post later today about our Friday devotional. Feel free to chime in on whatever God is showing you!

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Restoration of home…and heart

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

I have been pleasantly packing up my little home.  Boxes filled and sealed.  Destined to be opened in a new strange place. A place that will soon be our home as we begin to fill it with our presence – for that is what home is.

The afternoon of March 29th Jeff and I set eyes on this old house for the first time.  Like some eternal nurturer always looking for a broken or wounded soul to heal, so Jeff and I tend to be that way with old broken down and tossed aside things on the brink of death.  Whether it is an old rusty bucket like the one I just resuscitated last week or a piece of furniture by the curb on trash day.  We see not the trash heap it is, but what it once was.  What it can still be.  We have a vision of “new life” for things others would put in a grave.  So it is with this old school house.

We came early that day to snoop around before our realtor arrived to unlock the house.  We enjoyed guessing the purpose of each out-building and deciding right there how we would use it.  We knelt down and prayed in the driveway. Asking the Lord to make a way for us to be the new care takers of this lonely place.  Our realtor arrives.  She struggles with the lock.  The door opens and we look, we see, we imagine…we plan.

With Jeff armed with all the capabilities of a construction crew and me (as I’m told) the patience of a saint – we know we could take on this patient.  Though dirty, violated in some areas and slightly ill equipped to shelter our family, we knew we could provide the care that was necessary to bring her back to life.

I snooped through every door.  Like a curious kid wondering where it would lead.  One door took me into the bathroom.  As my head ducked under old dusty spider webs I turned to look in the mirror. There I found a treasure.  On a yellow post-it note was a bible verse written with a woman’s hand, stuck to the mirror and left behind.

I am the Lord

I snatched it down.  Who was this woman?  Our realtor spoke of rumors of divorse.  I knew we were looking at a property in a foreclosed status.  These walls could tell of hard times for sure.  Like scanning a crime scene and trying to put the pieces together I looked for evidence that told their story.  A teenage girl once roomed here.  They had a moving sale.  Unwanted items were simply left for the next occupants.  I wondered how they were all getting along now.  Had their wounds healed? I will never know.

But I do know this – that nothing is too hard for the Lord!  The Lord explained to Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 32 that He was about to hand the city over to the Babylonians – to destroy it and burn the houses down.  His people had ignored Him and turned away from the One True God.  They were in trouble and their lives were falling apart.  The Lord allowed the Babylonians to come in and destroy it.  He intended to show them just what life would be like for them, without Him.  And it was a nightmare.  But our Good God would not allow that to be the end.

In Jeremiah 32:37-39 the Lord says that He would also restore it and bring it back to life.  “…I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them … I will bring them back to this place and let them live safely.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them…”

I have also turned from God and His tender care.  Each time, He never withheld the sure consequences of living in such disregard to His goodness and mercy.  When my life would cease to worship Him he showed me exactly where that would lead – an exile of sorts.  But He always welcomed me back when my heart returned to Him.  He would not shame me nor allow me to live in the disgrace I deserved.

This is the God that Jeff and I worship.  He loves to make things new – to breath new life into something on the brink of death.  The Lord has done that in our marriage when it was destined for the trash heap.  A bond so broken by sin and selfishness that only the Lord could bring us back with a singleness of heart and action…for our good and the good of our children.  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

This is so much more than fixing up a house.  Anyone can come in and do what Jeff and I are doing- the painting, cleaning and repairs.  It would be all for nothing if we didn’t love the Lord.  Because He is the one that breathes the breath of life into our souls. It is His presence that makes this broken house a home!

pray with me

Oh Lord, you are so good to us. Thank you for stretching out your arm to us. Restore our hearts. Make them new. Breath life into our homes. Give us the singleness of heart and action that we long for. For our good and the good of our children. -Amen.

think with me

When have you found something or someone that you thought was beyond repair? Sometimes you see someone so ravaged by selfishness that you think there is no hope for them. Do you find it hard to have compassion and mercy for those in need of the Lord?

Take some time and think about what God has made new in your life. What has he rescued you from?

It’s one thing to put some screws into an old shaky chair. It’s an entirely different thing all together when you find a broken person.  Only God can see into their broken places and apply the healing touch of a creator.