With a sideways wave of His hand Jesus invited Peter away from the group. John followed a short distance behind the two men.
Jesus put His hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Do you remember when you were a teenager how you’d wrap your cloak around your chest, then you’d tie a loop in the mooring line of the boat, then you’d place the rope over your cloak and jump ashore and see how far you could pull the boat ashore? Just to prove to yourself and the men how strong you were.”
Peter looked at the sea and re-lived the times. “I remember the last time I did it was the record catch for my Dad… 127 fish. I pulled that boat twice as far as any time before.”
“Until you felt that pain in your knee.”
Peter stopped and looked at Jesus.
Jesus looked back. “You never told anybody about that pain.”
Peter watched the pebbles on the beach as they continued to walk.
“When you’re old they’ll strip you of your clothes and place your hands where you don’t want them to go.”
Peter searched Jesus’ serious eyes.
Jesus pierced his soul. “Follow me.”
Peter caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He pointed at John. “What about this man, Lord?”
Jesus placed both hands on Peter’s shoulders. “Your paths will coincide for a time, but you’ll each have your own road to travel. You follow Me.”
Peter fought back a tear. “But…”
Jesus stood back. “If I will that he remain until I return what is that to you? You must follow Me.”
Peter nodded lightly.
Have you ever wondered why God made babies so short? It’s because He knows they’re going to fall often when they learn to walk. The impact of the falls is much less severe than it is to old people. Just ask any elderly person with a broken hip.
In this account Peter is in the infant stage of his spiritual walk. Jesus has assured him that he’s still useful. He’s even given the fisherman a glimpse of his finale. The first thing Peter does is try to find out what the outcome of somebody else’s life will be.
Jesus, in His ever grace-filled way (okay, maybe you can read some impatience in His response) tells Peter it’s none of his business. Jesus scolds him for losing his focus so quickly. Peter was only responsible for Peter’s life, not John’s, too.
Have you ever caught yourself doing that? Comparisons are an easy snare to step in to. Writers are notorious for this. We attend a critique group to help improve each other’s writing. Then we get upset when somebody announces they just signed a contract with a publisher for something we thought was worse than what we’ve written.
Pastors are another fine lot for this trap. When they get together for conferences one of the first questions that comes up is how many attenders each has on a Sunday morning. You could take into account the size of the community their church is in, but that isn’t the yardstick anybody seems to use. It’s all in the numbers.
Salespeople look at the dollar amount of their sales. Athletes look at the stats for their position. Military members look at their rank. Everybody tends to look at how much money we make to measure where we stack up.
Each one of us is created to fulfill a specific role during our time on this Earth. Nobody else has our mix of temperament, emotions, experience, and passion. While some will make great parents others will need as much help as they can get. The answer is to discover what you are good at and give it all you’ve got.
The extent of our stumbles isn’t important to God. He’ll use our failures to teach us how to be better at our calling. Tradition tells us that Peter was arrested and sent to Rome. His conviction forced him to watch as his wife and children were crucified before he endured the same fate. Peter felt so unworthy to succumb to the same end as his Saviour that he insisted he be crucified upside-down. Now that’s what I call finishing strong!
That’s the most important lesson. How well we finish is the proof of our character. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit can change anybody into a person who can be used by God. How sincerely we follow God’s leading in our life is the only factor we have any control over. The results will ultimately be up to God.
I may never write a best-selling novel (in spite of what the tagline for my blog says), but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t learn as much as I can about improving my writing craft as best I can. I’d rather see my writing impact a small number of people in a major way than to have a great number of people enjoy my writing and go on with their lives with little change.
The Apostle John would indeed die before Jesus returned. But, his legacy includes the most unique gospel book, three epistles, and the book of Revelation; all written after Peter’s death. So don’t think you’re washed up just because you’re past your prime. As long as you can breathe God has a job for you on this Earth.
I’m pretty sure John didn’t know the extent of the impact his writing would carry into the future (including writing probably the most profound verse in all of the Bible). He just followed the passion God laid on his heart at that time in his life. The results have been totally up to God.
Does the same hold true in your life? Have you discovered the passion God created you for? Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you, then give it all you’ve got.
Be the best you you can be.
I’ll see you later. Wade