Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Peter's Testimony

I was a mess until Jesus found me! I was working hard, the family was doing ok, but I was struggling inside. Oh, my wife loved me, and Dad liked my work. I enjoyed working with him & my brother Andrew, and the fishing business was doing pretty well – especially once Andrew and I had begun working with him! Dad felt I was really getting the hang of this fishing thing, and others agreed, I had become quite the well-known fisherman. How I loved the feel of holding those nets, the water blowing in my face, the weight of a good catch straining every muscle in my body!

Andrew was really a good guy – as brothers go. Oh, there were times! When we were younger, I could sneak up on him when he was on the roof looking at the stars and he would almost end up over the edge! HA! But then HE could spin a tale that would have me believing anything! Oh my! Andrew put up with a lot from his older, rambunctious brother. I think sometimes he was kind of glad to have me around to hide behind!

As we grew up, we found we complemented each other. He was always amazed at my enthusiasm, and I always sat in wonder at his patience and gentleness. So as we grew into our teen years, surprise, we really enjoyed working together. Good thing too – Dad had to let us take over the business when his body began to fail… sometimes I think he saw himself in me…

Life was ok but it was hard too. My wife and I had a good home, but – you know me – I could get noisy, and fussy, and demanding, and… well you get the picture! She must have been getting coaching from Andrew, because she was putting up with a lot. She told me I needed to spend more time listening to God – ha! And then who would be casting the nets?! I knew I loved God – the awesome Lord Jehovah of our people. It’s just that, well, I was busy making a living. He knew I agreed with Him – wasn’t that enough?

But there were times, after a hard day of work, sitting quietly up on the roof, looking at the stars, thinking about how remarkably stable it all was. Look around anywhere in the sky – nothing was bouncing off of something else – a big difference with how things were going in my life! You sensed a great Hand at work, a strong hand, yes, but also a calm, peaceful one. It wasn’t often that I felt calm and peaceful…

Andrew & I were out on the shore working on our nets, getting ready for another long day out on the Sea of Galilee. I wanted to go out into a different part of the lake, not used as much – but I just knew there was a good catch waiting for us there! Andrew thought I was crazy, so we were engaged in one of our quiet, thoughtful little discussions – which everybody up and down the shore could hear!

We were so busy “discussing” that we didn’t notice the Stranger. He had quietly walked along the shore from out in the distance, and had just quietly gone to the water close to where our boat was moored. He was tossing stones in the water, but before He would toss the stone, He would examine it as if He wanted to know, or already knew, something very special about it.

He looked over at us – His eyes… Why is that what I remember most? His eyes met mine. I sensed right away, He didn’t need to know, He already knew – all of me, how I hurt, how I needed direction in life. It was remarkable. Andrew sensed it too.

Now, I must tell you -- He wasn’t actually a stranger – Andrew & I had met Him a couple of days ago. Andrew had been with John the Baptizer, and John had announced that this Jesus was the Son of God and the Lamb of God. After spending some time with Jesus, Andrew had come searching for me with this unusual sense of urgency – and he blurts out “We have found the Messiah!” Somehow I knew this wasn’t one of his tales trying to trick me.

So, quiet little Andrew took me to Jesus! -- Jesus seemed not to need to figure me out, to already know me. And it was here that He gave me the name Peter – how about that! I think He had in mind some amazing things that He would do in my life, but it took me a while to pick up on that…

So, here He was again, out here on the shore – looking at me…

And then He simply said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Talk about getting my attention! No doubt I could have fished circles around Him – hmmm. But anyway – I knew He was talking about a different kind of fishing. And a different kind of life.

When Jesus found me, and called me to be His disciple, I followed Him – I put down my nets, gave my life to Him, one step at a time. The journey became difficult at times, and sometimes, I was really at my impetuous worse – but He loved me through it all, gave me a mission in life and ended up consuming me and fulfilling me at the same time. The mess had become a miracle.