He decides

But God isn’t slow

2 Peter 3:8-9, 13 A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent … what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. … We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

Chapter 1 of 2 Peter gives us a pattern of godly living. Chapter 2 warns us not to follow false teachers, showing us the antithesis of godly living. Chapter 3 reminds us Jesus will return and set the world right.

It’s the hope Christians have held on to for two thousand years.

Imagine: already when Peter wrote this, just a few years after Jesus returned to Heaven, believers—including people who personally knew Jesus—already felt like it was taking a long time for him to come back. And here we are, almost two thousand years later, still yearning for the day we will meet our beloved Lord face to face.

But what catches my attention as I read chapter 3 is the word “repent” in verse 9, because it reminds me of Peter’s repentance and restoration after he denied Jesus. Hours before he had brashly said, “I’m ready to die for you” (John 13: 37). Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even knew me.”

Ouch.

No wonder Peter escaped into fishing. And then Jesus performed a miracle that mirrored one of Peter’s early encounters with him, with one critical difference. Compare Luke 5:5-7 with John 21:11: The first time, the nets were so full they began to tear. In writing about the second time, John makes a point of detailing that there were 153 large fish, and yet the net did not tear.

The first time Jesus performed this miracle, Peter wasn’t ready for his role as a fisher of men. Here’s The Chosen’s dramatization of this event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWGCkovAUWM

The second time, Jesus took Peter through an intriguing process of repentance and restoration, entrusting his “lambs” to Peter’s care, and gave him a new identity: a shepherd.

A friend in Brazil sent us a moving song about Peter. You’ll capture its soul by listening even if you don’t understand Portuguese. Jesus tells Peter, “I know you own your boat. But I own the sea.” And Jesus reminds Peter how to live his life: “Your knowledge will only matter if you know how to love.”

I’ve seen 2 Peter 3:9 and 15 applied to evangelism, the role of the fisherman. I think there’s more to it than that. I think they applies to each of us in the areas we each need to repent and be made whole, as we are cared for by our Shepherd. Like Peter himself.

Through the centuries, people have made predictions about Jesus’ return and have exhorted believers to prepare for that Day, sailing their boats as well as they knew how. Let’s remember: The Lord owns the sea. He decides.

And meanwhile, our instructions are clear. Make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in God’s sight. … Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord whom Peter came to know very, very personally.

But God gives hope of freedom from death and decay

Romans 8:20-23 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

In São Paulo, we lived a few blocks uphill from one of the city reservoirs, Represa Guarapiranga, a sizeable lake surrounded by grass and trees and flowers and birds. A flock of herons occupied an inlet; exotic pheasant-like birds whose name I don’t remember nested on the shore. Cows, horses and stray dogs wandered there (watch your step!). Neighborhood men and boys fished and played soccer, flew kites and maneuvered battery-powered miniature airplanes.

Hungry for green space in our industrial city of 22 million (our house had no yard), our family celebrated Easters with sunrise breakfasts at the represa and on clear nights sometimes glimpsed a few stars. We jogged there and picnicked, enjoying the gracious accent of sailboats and other craft.

Our neighbors were less sanguine about using the represa shoreline. Drugs were sold and smoked. Assaults and murders, kidnappings and rapes were too-often reported. Vagrants bathed and slept there. Soccer fields flooded during rainy season, while mosquitos thrived.

From our upstairs windows, the represa offered a soothing touch of nature amid the concrete and traffic. Such a lovely image—from a distance. Up close—hmm, not so much:

Sadly, I can’t find the photo I took of the Guarapiranga shoreline, but this gives you the idea. Shutterstock: Wipas Rojjanakard

My friend Loide, an architect who worked for the city, long nurtured a vision for our neighborhood shoreline. On a visit several years after Karis and I left São Paulo for Pittsburgh, I discovered Loide’s plans had been embraced and funded! Cultivated flora framed walking/jogging paths, exercise equipment, benches, and concrete tables with painted-on gameboards. The half-mile park hugging the shoreline of “our” represa was fenced, protected and maintained by a staff of guards and gardeners. Hundreds of people, from infants to elderly, now safely enjoyed the reclaimed space.

For me, Loide’s park, infusing hope in a setting of violence and violations, is an image of restoration—what Paul calls “a foretaste of future glory.”

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace.