Photo courtesy of LoveSingapore
Peter goes fishing.
What else can he do? Jesus had promised a rendezvous in Galilee. But so far no show. Peter’s got half the apostles with him for a crew, including his former partners, James and John. So why not launch out into the deep for a catch?
Is Peter backsliding into his old career as a fisherman? Perhaps not. But the temptation can’t be ruled out. Jesus has forgiven him. But has Peter forgiven himself?
Forgiveness is one thing. Recovery is another.
A night with the nets might do Peter good in the way of recreational therapy. But no such luck. They fished all night and caught nothing. It seems they have been here before. But this is only the first step of a walk down memory lane.
Forgiveness is one thing. Recovery is another.
At the break of day, a familiar voice hails from the shore: Any fish, boys? No! Try the other side.
Success! Enough fish to sink a boat.
Peter joins the dots. He throws himself overboard and swims 90 metres to meet the Lord on the shore. The first thing he sees is a charcoal fire, like the one at the scene of his denial of Christ (John 18:18).
But this one has bread and fish on it. Breakfast on the beach.
Why all these flashbacks? The futile fishing trip. The retry at the Lord’s word. The miraculous catch. Peter’s leap from the boat. The charcoal fire. The bread and fish.
Is Peter having déjà vu?
The church is not a showcase of saints, but a healing place for sinners.
No. All these props evoke the ups and downs of his career as a disciple – from his call in Galilee to his fall on Good Friday. The stage is being set for his rehabilitation. The only thing missing is the rooster. That would be overkill.
Peter is a broken man. Can he bounce back from failure? Does he have what it takes to restore his fellow disciples? He can take them fishing. But can he take them forward in the Church Jesus builds? Is he Rock yet?
Jesus does all things well. First things first: Come and have breakfast. Feed him before you fix him. A spoonful of kindness helps the medicine go down.
- What do you do when Jesus doesn’t show up? He promised to meet you there. But here you are waiting.
Learn from Peter’s experience. When Jesus turns a page in your life, don’t go back to your old securities. Success or failure in the Church or in personal life depends on where Jesus stands in the picture. Without His presence and prompting, our efforts are futile – no matter how professional our skillsets, methods, and machinery may be.
Pray: Lord Jesus, we turn from our self-reliant ways. We recognise that sometimes frustration and futility are signs from You that we are doing our own thing or running ahead of You. May we respond rightly to divine disappointments. Teach us to wait on You. Treat us to breakfast again.
- The church is not a showcase of saints, but a healing place for sinners. Our world needs such a place where the guilty and the broken can receive emergency care and bounce back from failure.
Are our churches safe havens for inner healing and recovery? Ponder and pray. A safe church is where:
• The entire community is a warm and welcoming family.
• Relationships are more important than programmes.
• Relational health is the catalyst for church growth.
• No one pretends that they have it all together.
• Leaders set the example in creating a safe environment.
• Leaders are aware of their own vulnerabilities and are accountable.
• Leaders are not defensive or evasive, but repent when they are wrong.
• Leaders don’t wear masks and don’t allow people to idolise them.
• Leaders value brokenness and see failure as a stepping stone for growth.
• Leaders preach truth without compromise and speak the truth in love.
• People make time for face-to-face conversations on sensitive issues.
• Everyone feels free and safe to share their struggles and shame.
• The broken are not stigmatised but receive ministry towards recovery.
• Everyone respects confidentiality and avoids gossip. (Rodney Gaskins, adapted)
- Restore the fallen. A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench (Isaiah 42:3). Look around. Is there a person in your circle who needs restoration, like Peter? The one who over-promised and under-delivered. The one whose confidence is shattered. The one who is wondering: Can Jesus ever again use a person like me?
Pray for him as Jesus prayed for Peter. Feed him before you fix him. Host a breakfast. One-on-one.
Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast (Max Lucado).
Restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). Give him Jesus’ medicine: God loves you. God builds on your brokenness. God’s grace is sufficient for you. God’s power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God will send you out to heal the brokenhearted.
Read the devotional from Day 28, July 28: Life after denial here.