Resilient | Restored

posted by Merissa Rambo | Apr 20, 2022

As we wrap up our sermon series on Resilience, looking at the story of Easter through Peter's life, I can't stop thinking about a part of Peter's story in the future of his ministry.  Somewhere along the way, we can begin to think that as Christians, we need to have our act together. We talk so often of grace and truth, but the longer I am a follower of Jesus, the more I find that I have less grace for myself and more harsh truth.  The refrain of "you are not good enough" echoes daily in my mind.  


On Easter Sunday, we visited the story of Peter and some of the disciples out fishing after Jesus has died and been resurrected, but before he has ascended to heaven.  In the aftermath of Jesus dying, resurrecting, and appearing to them, the disciples don't quite know what to do with themselves, and so they turn to what is familiar. Fishing. Some of these men have been doing this their entire lives and can do so without much effort or thought. 


I can relate. Can you? When life is hard or overwhelming, we stick to what we know, to something we know we can handle.  Soon, though, the disciples have an encounter with Jesus.  An encounter that rings incredibly familiar for them.  Jesus says to them, "Have you caught any fish?" Just as the first time Jesus met Peter and asked this question, they had caught none, and just as before, Jesus tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. Their nets overflow. I'm sure this was a powerful moment of deja vu for Peter especially, and he immediately realizes who is talking to them.  "It's the Lord!", he says.  


Jesus asks Peter over breakfast if he loves him - not once but three times.  I can imagine the deep regret that Peter must feel as he remembers the three times he denied him. Oh, that feeling of regret.  We've all been there, haven't we?  To wish we could back and undo something we did or said, but the hurt and damage is done.  Peter is resilient in facing his mistakes.  He is resilient in not walking away, because of his brokenness.  He is resilient in that he doesn't give up, even though he probably has thoughts of "I'm not good enough" running through his mind.


As I heard this story told on Easter Sunday, my mind flashed to the "future Peter".  This Peter was a leader in the church, one who many turned to for guidance as they established what it meant to be a follower of Jesus in a world that didn't know how that looked. In Galatians 2, Paul tells the story of confronting Peter when Peter is giving into some good, old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill, peer pressure from other Jewish Christians. Peter stops associating with the Gentile Christians in front of the Jewish Christians worried about what they might think.  


I thought of that story, and I thought, even after everything Peter witnessed firsthand, he still struggled with his human nature.  He was still growing and maturing as a believer.  If Peter, who walked by Jesus' side, saw his miracles, saw him after he was resurrected, still struggled to always get it right - then how much more, will I? How much more, will we? Peter didn't hit a point in his life and stay perfect.  Life isn't going to be that way for us either.  


And that's what Resilience is.  It's not being strong one time and staying that way forevermore.  It's picking ourselves up again and again, turning to our Savior, the Author, and Perfector of our Faith, the ultimate Forgiver, and saying, Lord, once again, Here am I.