Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fireside Chats

Church was amazing (as usual) on Sunday. We've been in the middle of a series called "Setbacks," a topic to which I think every human on the planet can relate. We've all had setbacks of some kind or another. Our pastor said that you're either in one, coming out of one, or about to go into one. We've had our fair share in the last year and a half, that's for sure. But, Sunday, our youth pastor, Kevin, spoke about how "Christ's love propels us through the setbacks we create for ourselves." His illustration? Peter.

Oh, Peter. I think after this week I can relate even more to this disciple of Christ, the rock upon which Christ built the church. Peter was always speaking too soon or "sticking his foot in his mouth." Kevin called it "foot-in-mouth-itis." And oh, I've had that this week. I've come armed with the sword and cut off the ear too soon.  I've jumped out of the boat and walked on the sea toward my Jesus only to lose focus and begin sinking. I've  done a lot of things that Peter might do. But thank God, I have a Savior that still loves me and still sees fit to use me.

Even after Peter's rebuke of Jesus, even after his swift violence in the garden, even after his denial of the true Christ, Jesus still saw fit to use Peter...and use him He did. After Jesus' resurrection and before His ascension, in John 21, Peter and Jesus have a "fireside chat" one morning after a rough night of fishing. This is where He asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" I can only imagine what that conversation must have been like for Peter...what it must have felt like to have your Savior ask you over and over if you love Him. By the 3rd time, Peter is "grieved." "Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You," Peter replies. Jesus again tells him to "feed my sheep" and after a few other statements, tells Peter "Follow me."

Kevin pointed out to us that each time Jesus addresses Peter in this passage, he calls him "Simon, son of John" instead of Peter. This is significant because it was as if Jesus was saying to Peter, "Let's start this over. You've done some boneheaded things and you've had some royal screw ups but you are still going to do great things in and through Me. So let's forget about all the rest and start from here. Forgetting the past, follow Me now." My Bible actually subtitles that portion of scripture, "Jesus Restores Peter."

Jesus and I have had some similar "fireside chats" of our own lately. He's asked repeatedly if I love Him, I've assured Him I do, and then He tells me something He desires of me. I agree but then go right back to my original business. But then He gives me a glimpse or a vision of how He wants to use me for His kingdom and I start to really get it. "Follow Me," He says. "Follow Me into the unknown, into the uncomfortable, into the unimaginable, and I promise that you won't regret it. Follow me and you will do great things for My kingdom." So even after all my Peter-like ways, He still desires to use me. After all of my mistakes, He restores me to who I am meant to be.

So, I don't dread these occasional fireside chats with my Savior. I've come to really appreciate them. I've realized where I am flawed and where His grace must take over. I've realized areas of  my life that need to change and am finally working to change them. I've realized that, like Peter, I may screw up and I may stick my foot in my mouth more times than I care to count, but Jesus will always call me by name and He will always restore me.

(Image from GoogleImages)

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