It’s not all work and struggle, though. Let’s circle back to Peter, because God uses him to give us a great “before and after” picture. Three years later, mere days after Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to the disciples—and for that matter, Peter’s repeated denial of Jesus—we see almost the exact same scene as the one in Luke 5, this time in John 21. Peter, James, and John go fishing again; this time they’ve got Thomas, Nathanael and two other disciples with them (and after all the bickering throughout the Gospels, it’s nice to see them finally starting to work together). Again, they have another bad night of fishing.
This time Jesus shows up on the shore—close enough to yell, but far enough that they can’t yet tell it’s him. He tells them to cast out their nets, and again, the nets can’t hold all the fish they catch. Peter’s been here before; he realizes it’s Jesus.
But what’s Peter’s reaction this time? He throws himself into the sea and swims as fast as he can toward the shore. He doesn’t wait for the boat to dock—or freak because the guy he’d betrayed only days earlier is maybe a hundred yards away, back from the dead, and knows how to walk on water. This time, Peter’s going as fast as he can to Jesus. Clearly Peter’s still an impetuous kind of guy, and “a sinful man!”, but equally clearly he’s learned something about his relationship to Jesus. Peter, quite literally, is shame-less.
Now it’s our turn. Whatever has happened in our past is an opportunity for Jesus to transform it, and us, if we’ll let him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). You are in fact already blessed because you don’t deserve grace, and no matter who you are or where you stand with Jesus at this moment, his grace is offered to you anyway, right now. Therefore, the challenge now becomes to receive and rejoice in that grace. The past is gone; let it stay gone. We’ll look more into that next week.
Lay It Down Today
What issues from your past came to mind as you read today? Get a piece of paper and write them down. Then bury your past—literally.
First, take some time to pray, giving over to God whatever you’ve written down, and asking the Spirit’s help to empower you to keep letting those things go. Then, take your paper and bury it (or tear it up). Thank God for your past—because it’s made you who are today, and in brand-new ways you’re now willing to let him reveal—but let whatever shame that remains in your past die, so your future can live.