In the natural course of things, we all encounter pain. Physical pain is something I am familiar with, but it deserves its' own separate post, if not a SERIES of posts. This post is about the mental/emotional/spiritual pain that we experience, and it's just as inevitable as the physical kind. Whether it's a result of Happenings, or neuro-chemistry gone bad, we all have to deal with it somehow, or we withdraw from others and die inside.
One guy decided to deal with it by going fishing.
John 21:3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
Jesus meets with Peter, John, & company on the shore, in the same way that He had met them when He first called them. Up to this point, Peter hadn't seen Jesus after the Resurrection, and he was discouraged. So he goes back to doing what he knew how to do, before Jesus had called him: fishing.
Consider: He's riding on top, one of Jesus' closest friends, then all of a sudden, right when Jesus gets acclaim in riding into Jerusalem, it all turns to ashes.
Peter tells the story from this point:
"To make it worse, I deny Him, and Jesus knows it, and I knows He knows it because He had told me I was going to do it. And when He did, I acted really brave, and boasted that I would NEVER do that. Then I did it, and Jesus knows, and then they beat Him, and then they kill Him, and it's horrible. Bam. End of story. The promise of great triumphs is gone, and I'm crushed, smashed, just about destroyed.
"So, I do the only thing I have left: I go back to being a fisherman. I'm not even important enough to be a criminal. I'm just a lousy old fisherman, with a stinky boat and a stinky net. And to make matters worse, me and the boys fish all night, and don't catch anything.
"The emptiness, the grief, is almost enough for me to throw myself in the sea and drown myself. Not only can't I be a disciple, not only can't I be brave enough to stand up and say I'm a follower, I can't even catch fish anymore.
"I can't even catch a single, stinky, slimy fish. Me. Big, Bad, tough Peter. The Rock. Yeah. Some rock I turned out to be. If we weren't so close to shore, I'd jump overboard, and then I'd be a rock, all right, down to the bottom, with the slime where I belong.
"And then, when I've accepted the fact that I'm a failure at this, too, and we are headed back to shore, and I've never felt worse in my life, we hear a voice coming from the beach. It's not bad enough that I have to fail at this, but I've got an audience.
"But there's something about that voice... and it moves me. It reminds me of the first time when Jesus told me to cast my net on the other side, and I got kind of huffy about some carpenter preacher telling me how to fish. But THIS time, when the voice tells me to toss the net out on the other side, I don't complain, 'Look, I've been working hard all night, and I'm a fisherman, and I know what I'm doing, but if You say so, I'll do it.'
"Nope. I don't say anything at all, but the sweat has suddenly dried on my face, and my hands are trembling, and me and the boys toss the net out on the other side of the boat, just like we did all those years ago, and SHAZAM! The net is full of fish! And I can't move, I can't think, I can't even breathe, until John says "it's the Lord!" and then I'm so full of energy that I grab up my tunic and jump in the water, because I've got to get to Him, I've got to find Him, and tell Him I'm sorry, and I've got to do it right NOW! I can't wait for the boat, I don't care about the boat, or the fish, or even the other guys, I've got to go fall at His feet and cry my heart out, because I've been such a failure.
"I won't tell you exactly what happened in the time between me making it to shore, and the the boat making it to shore. That's between me and Him. But I will tell you that He made me a man again.
"And not just a man, but His disciple. And a guy who wasn't ever going to lie about it, not ever again.
He already had breakfast ready for us: fish and bread. How many meals had we had with Him over the years that were fish and bread? He could take a few pieces of fish and bread, and feed thousands of people.
"But that's not what He did this time. He told me to go get some of the fish that I had caught. So I did. I had to go help the other guys haul in the nets: 153 big fish, largest catch ever, and the net didn't break, and the boat didn't sink.
"You know, Jesus could have fed us all with the fish and bread He already had on the fire, but He didn't. He wanted to add some of what I caught. So I got out my knife, and cut a few fillets, and gave them to Him, and he cooked them too. Jesus could have fed us with what He already had, but He asked me to give Him some of what I had caught, fish I caught because He made it happen. But do you get it? He let me make a contribution! He was telling me that I wasn't worthless, not as a fisherman, and not as a disciple. I don't know if you can imagine what a change that was for me, in just a few minutes. One minute I'm a failure, the next minute, Jesus wants my contribution; He wants me to use my skills to feed the guys, when He could have fed the world with no help from me at all.
"He talked with me some more, and I have to admit that at the moment, it hurt my feelings when He asked me three different times if I loved Him. Of course I answered yes, all three times, but the third time, I said, 'Lord, You know all things, You know I love You.'
"And it was about then that I realized that He really did know all things, and that He had asked me three times, because before, in the courtyard that night before they killed Him, I had said I didn't even know Him three times; and it hit me that even then, when I was denying Him, He knew that I really did love Him.
"And besides asking me to give Him some of the fish I'd caught, He gave me another job: Feed His lambs, and take care of and feed His sheep. Just like He had wanted me to give Him some fish that He could have provided Himself, He was telling me that He trusted me enough to do some more things for Him.
"Then He asked me to go for a walk on the beach with Him. So I got up, and we started on the walk, and I saw John was coming along. I asked Jesus if He wanted John to come too, and I guess it must have shown that I was bugged a little bit, because I wanted some more alone time with Him, but He set me straight. He told me that it wasn't any of my business, basically. What He said was, 'Look, if I want John to hang around until I come back, what is it to you? You need to do what I tell you to do, and don't worry about what I tell other people to do, and what I'm telling you is, FOLLOW ME!'
"Sometimes I have to be told things extra times. He told me I was a rock, after all, and sometimes it's my faith, but sometimes it's my brains that are like a rock.
"I'm not going to tell you what He told me on the walk on the beach, either. John says that if we tried to write down everything Jesus said, we'd run out of paper. That's true, but it's also true that sometimes what He said was private; and that's what that last walk on the beach was like.
"One thing He did tell me is that they are going to kill me for following Him. That's pretty spooky, but He said it wasn't going to happen until I get old, so it's nothing I'm going to worry about until then; except that since I know it's going to happen, you can bet I'm going to make sure that they have a really, really good reason for doing it.
"If I'm going to die because I'm one of His boys, then you betcha I'm gonna make sure they have lots and lots of evidence to convict me. And you can bet I'm going to be kicking up some sand in their faces until then. Yeah, they'll get me in the end, but until that happens, the Rock is going to roll. "