Peter stood on the deck of the fishing boat, feet spread to give him balance. His wind-tossed hair matched his tumbling thoughts. He was confused, not sure what he should do next.
On top of that, he was feeling awkward. Just days before He’d betrayed his dearest Friend. This hung between them like a heavy veil. Jesus, having been resurrected, had returned to their lives, but not in the same way as before. His disciples were no longer part of His entourage.
Feeling like an outcast, his most-prized relationship strained, he had returned to his occupation before Jesus – fishing. The rest of the disciples joined him, for they were also floundering.
After a worthless night (they’d caught nothing), Someone called to them from the shore, asking if they had any fish. They had to admit that the night was a total bust.
The Man told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. When they did, they caught more than they could haul into the boat.
John suddenly recognized Him, and exclaimed, “It is the Lord.”
At this point, Peter did something very odd. He put on his outer garment, jumped into the water, and swam to shore!
Picture this: he’s standing on the boat, presumably in his boxers (or whatever they wore under their outer garment). Whatever his attire, he’s visible from the shore. His decision to grab his clothes can’t be a modesty issue.
It would have made more sense for him to jump in the water in whatever he was wearing, and then dress when the boat and the rest of the fellows arrived.
That’s what I would have done…
…or would I?
Consider the situation. As Jesus foretold, Peter denied the Lord before His crucifixion. Peter had been in His presence since Jesus’ resurrection, but this issue was unresolved. While Peter was comfortable being nearly naked with his friends, he was not about to be in the Lord’s presence in that state.
Isn’t this a lot like us? We can be with our friends and “let it all hang out,” but the minute we sense the Lord, we quickly cover up. It’s as if we don’t believe that He is omniscient – He knows everything. Everything!
In Peter’s story, I see my own. Many times I’ve “hidden” from God. I blew it, and was afraid of what He would do to me.
I hid because I didn’t really believe what the Bible says about God; that He is merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Exodus 34:6-7). In fact, God was the One who described Himself this way.
Thus I chose to be covered and ashamed when I could have bared my soul before Him…and let Him bear my shame.
For Peter, the story has a happy ending. Jesus got to the point of tension quickly with a single question: “Peter, do you love Me?” Through the dialog that followed, their relationship was restored.
He does the same for us.
With Jesus, restoration is a quick process. He has no desire to drag it out, punish us for our actions, or let us suffer a while before He forgives us. He is so eager to be in fellowship with us that He seeks us out. We don’t get chewed out or ridiculed. He cuts to the chase, and addresses the issue; and then the matter is settled – thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness, where He remembers it no more.
This process amazes me every time I experience it.
Lord, I am so quick to hide from You – despite what You’ve told me to expect. Help me to really know and believe the truth about who You are and what You are like. Give me the courage to face You when I’ve made a mess of things again. Thank You for Your mercy and grace.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.