But God knows our story
John 21:3-6, 17, 19-22 [After Jesus’s resurrection] Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” [six other disciples] said. But they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus, standing on the beach, called out, “Children, have you caught any fish?” No, they replied. Then Jesus said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat.” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. …
Psalm 32:1-2 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt!
[After breakfast] A third time, Jesus asked Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” … Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved. … He asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “… What is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose this particular setting for his pivotal conversation with Peter after the crucifixion and resurrection, after Peter’s denials warranted a return to the moniker “Simon”?
This miraculous catch of fish is a reprise of Luke 5, offering Peter another chance to recognize and reconnect with Jesus, and with God’s call on his life. A chance to accept forgiveness and to move beyond his failures. A chance to heal his story.
God met me as well, on ensuing visits to the lake. Fast forward from the story I told in the last post. I’m now fourteen, graduated from boarding school, fearful of the future. Sitting alone overlooking the lake, I told the Lord I wasn’t ready to leave Guatemala because I had not yet learned to love. I acknowledged my heart full of resentment and bitterness. I didn’t want to take all that with me into whatever awaited me in my new life in the United States, where my parents would send me for high school. But how could I change? I had confessed my anger and hurt, but it refused to die, rearing its ugly head on a daily basis.
Romans 12:2 was the verse I was considering: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” You’ll have to do it, Lord. I have no idea how to change the way I think. On the surface, nothing (apparently) happened. But it was a place marker, an anchor, an intention, a hope: “Someday, somehow, I will learn how to love other people.”
Shutterstock: Christopher Moswitzer
Fast forward twenty-five or so more years. A different country, a different lake, a different language. A big difference this time because I’m not alone. A dear friend is listening to my despair over Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us.”
“For most of my life,” I confessed to my friend, “I’ve begged God to teach me to love him and to love other people. But I don’t know how. I have no idea what it feels like to be a dearly loved child.”
“Then let’s ask him to show you,” she said. What followed was one of the most powerful prayer visions I have ever experienced. It healed a fracture line in my soul. It changed forever the way I knew Jesus and the way I viewed myself and other people. Literally, it saved my life. It was the beginning of learning the Romans 12:2 different way of thinking I had begged God for at fourteen.
Why did this healing take so long? Why did I have to go through so much trauma and drama between fourteen and forty? I’ll probably never know. But I’m grateful, so thankful that it did happen. It was an essential foundation stone in the healing journey that has continued through the almost thirty years since that day.
Tomorrow Dave and I plan to board a plane for Ireland, for a “triple trip,” celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary last August, Dave’s St. Patrick’s Day 70th birthday, and researching Book 3 of the Cally and Charlie series. I have the sense—though I don’t know how, exactly—that the week in Ireland will be another significant step in the healing God continues in my life. I’ll let you know!