Archive for April 10th, 2007

I Go Fishing.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Today’s scripture: John 21:1-3 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

To understand the context of today’s reading, we must remember what happened in John 18:10-27. There, after Jesus’ arrest, Simon Peter denied being one of his disciples. It’s not that he didn’t have time to think about it. Three times Peter was asked and three times he issued the same emphatic denial. The other Gospel accounts say that Peter even swore and cursed for added emphasis.

Picture it: “G– d—, I told you, I am not one of his f—— disciples; I don’t even know the man!”

Imagine an Apostle saying something like that! Imagine Peter’s shame.

Now we encounter Peter again, after Jesus has risen. He seems utterly unable to join in the celebration. He probably feels that he has disqualified himself — that he no longer has any right to presume to be part of Jesus’ inner-circle. There’s nothing left for him to do but to go back to his old profession — fishing.

Each one of us can relate. In things small, and in things large, we find ourselves denying our Lord.

Just earlier this week, on Easter Sunday no less, I found myself behaving badly. Our Church had reservations for Easter Brunch at a nice restaurant. By the time I arrived, the waitress informed me that all available slots we had reserved were already taken. I said I understood, that I would just go into the dining room to tell my party that I wouldn’t be able to join them. “No!” she said, as she threw her arm out to bar me. I explained that I was a pastor, that I just wanted to give my regrets to folks from my congregation who were already inside, and I assured her I would come right back out. “No, I can’t let you do that.” “Why?” I asked. “You might not come back out.” “But I give you my word – I’m a pastor.”

But she remained firm. “I’m sorry,” she said. I shook my head and said, “I’m sorry for your rudeness,” then left. I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling discouraged that I had tarnished the name of Christ by my ungracious response.

You know the feeling? Of course, the example I’ve given is a relatively small thing. We’ve all done much worse. What is the most shameful thing you’ve ever done?

Our shame presents an enormous temptation — the temptation to throw our hands in the air and say, “I give up; I’m going fishing” — i.e., I’m going back to the way I used to be before I started trying to follow Jesus. I’ve heard it said that “discouragement is Satan’s favorite tool.”

When we get discouraged, there is only one antidote. We have to clear our conscience by confessing our sin, then force ourselves to get up and move bravely forward. Nothing is gained by getting stuck in our shame.

Do you remember the 1980s movie Chariots of Fire? It tells the true story of Eric Liddell, a devout Christian who was also a renowned Olympic runner. In a pivotal 440-yard race leading up to the Olympics, Liddell’s feet got tangled with another runner and he fell. When a runner falls in a race that short, he is doomed. There is no way to catch up and win.

When he fell, Liddell sat on the ground dazed for a moment, then — amazingly — got up and resumed the race. Half way around the track he had reached the back of the pack of runners. The crowd went wild. He kept pressing forward. With forty yards left, he pulled into third place, then second. Right at the tape he drew even with the leader, stuck out his chest, and won — then collapsed on the track from total exhaustion. An article appearing the next day in The Scotsman newspaper said, “Veterans whose memories take them back 35 years or more were unanimous that Liddell’s win was the greatest track performance they had ever seen.”

Thought for the day: The real test of our Christianity comes when we fall. Do we stay there, overwhelmed by regret and shame? Or do we get up and start running again — more determined than ever?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Be still and know… is proudly powered by WordPress.