My favorite part of every Sunday school lesson was always the felt board reenactments of Biblical stories. Anybody else remember those? The sound, the touch, the static, and always the one or two disciples who didn’t “cling” and slid off and had to be put back on. I even remember the special time that I got to help re-create the feeding of the five thousand and pass out bread and fish! The characters were such a fun, interactive way for me to learn important Biblical concepts. And for a long time in my faith, probably longer than I would care to admit, characters in the Bible had that sort of one-dimensional quality to them. In college, through very good teaching at my church, I was taught to see the commonality between modern day believers and those first century and before Christ figures. Abraham and Isaac became more than papers on a felt board, they became people that had a lot in common with me and that I could learn from. I am forever grateful to my college minister who made these people have flesh and bones, problems and solutions, and powerful stories of hope that I can cling to now.
I would like to point out, I am not a Biblical scholar. As anyone who knows me well can attest, my mind is not analytical. My mind is full of song lyrics, Friends quotes, anxious ramblings, and often disjointed tangential thoughts. I am Seminary educated but, truly, didn’t invest as much into my theology classes as I wish I would have. I used to say all the time “I’m here for a counseling degree” and smile. So it shocks me silly to be in one of the hardest times in my life and leaning so much on Scripture and accounts of heroes in the faith as depicted in the Old and New Testament.
I will cut to the chase. Yesterday, we received the news that the IUI was not successful and that I am not pregnant. Again. And as predicted, there were a lot of tears. I promise you, I could feel all of your prayers in a way that I cannot explain. The news was still devastating, I won’t lie. At certain moments I am fine, and then the next second I can feel the despair climbing up my throat and choking me. I don’t want to do all of this over again. I wanted to be starting our family now. And I’m thankful that so many of you were praying but the idea of more Letrazole, a drug most commonly used for chemotherapy in breast cancer and Ovidril and daily blood draws creates quite a tempest in my soul.
It’s 2:30 am and I just got out of bed because I could feel myself losing my bearings. I could feel myself sinking. I had been comforted by my husband, by the dog, by friends and family and with my sweet Chad snoring persistently next to me, I could feel that it was time to finally take this pain to the source. I just stared to weep into my pillow and beg for Him to come. In whatever way He can. In all the ways He does, please just come because I need You. And my mind drifted to the story of the disciples (apostles?) that went out to fish after Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to them on the shore.
I have given lots of thought as to who of the disciples I would most likely be kin to. Is that strange? I would love to be “the one who Jesus loved” who curled up with Him at the last supper and have that be my identity. I even think it would be kind of cool to be Matthew, the reformed tax collector. For sure, I wouldn’t mind being Luke who did such a thorough job of keeping track of Jesus and His ministry on earth. But when I really get down to it, I’m pretty sure that this impulsive, overzealous, fearful lady is most like Peter. I put my foot in my mouth for far less holy things than Peter did but I still think he and I would understand each other.
I used to think of Peter as a sort of bumbling idiot. Sorry! Certainly not the cornerstone of the church. He was so fiery and blustery one minute and then couldn’t keep his eyes open the next. He is one of the first to correctly identify Christ as the Messiah and then he denies Him three times as He is being executed. He got a bad wrap in my book, for sure. He makes more sense to me now though I think. Despite living and working with him for three years, seeing all that Christ could do, I feel like Peter best shows us how confusing this Savior could be. The Jews wanted a warrior, someone to come and defy Rome and free them from oppression. And here comes Jesus, preaching peace and respect of the government. He was simply not what any of them expected Him to be. And that is something that I can certainly most identify with.
Jesus doesn’t fit into the box I always want Him to. There are times I wish that I could adhere to the name it, claim it theology that is so popular but that just isn’t what my experience of Jesus has been. My walk with Jesus has shown me that rarely does the believer get an easy life. Rarely is peace won through anything but conflict. Jesus is not sunshine and roses all the time. He calls us to lay down that which is most important to us and follow Him, and to trust that somehow, deeper communion with Him is better than any earthly blessing. And I believe that it is with all my heart.
Heres how i imagine the story of the disciples fishing after Jesus resurrected went. Yes, many liberties no doubt taken! The one they all mourned, the one they thought would defy death, He died. They saw his body in the tomb, they saw the wounds and no doubt had no idea how a body could recover from that. But they had the promise that He would come again so there was this tenuous hope. And then, dagblameit, He rose! He stinking rose from the grave, appeared to them, and let them put their hands in his wounds. But we don’t know what He does next. The next time we see Him, He is on the shore. Can you indulge me and think like Peter for a minute? Great, He’s back! HE IS WHO HE SAID HE WAS! Hallelujah! What do we do now? Do we fight? Do we take back our city? Does He build an army? And in the absence of any clearer direction, Peter decides to do what He has always done, he’s goes fishing.
And maybe Peter is a little bit like me and maybe he just wanted to go out, and after everything that had happened, the pain of seeing someone you love hurt and die, maybe He just wanted something to be easy. And it’s not. They are catching nothing. All the sudden, a call from the shore. Somebody tells us to throw the net on the other side, what an amateur! But they do and he witnesses the divine happen again. In the midst of the water, in the midst of confusion and perhaps despair, one of my favorite lines of Scripture is uttered. “It is the Lord!” And Peter, true to form, his zeal overwhelming him, jumps into the water and presumably swims to shore to be with Jesus. It doesn’t matter that Jesus is now a master fisherman in addition to the Son of God, all that matters is Peter loves Him and seeing Him changes his perspective.
Even though he might never understand Him. Even though he might never be the Jesus Peter wants him to be. Even though he doesn’t know what the outcome will be, the trust that He is there, that He still does miracles, that the waves and winds still know His name, is enough to move Peter out of the boat and into Jesus’ arms. And if Peter can do it, so can I.