Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It All Started with Breakfast...

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?"  "Yes, Lord," he said to Him, "You know that I love You."  "Feed My lambs," He told him. - John 21:15
A few weeks ago my family and I had the chance to spend a few days at the beach prior to our girls leaving for college. My oldest daughter, Kayla, is a senior communications major at Mississippi College and my middle daughter, Lizzie, is a freshman at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Katibeth, of course, is with us until Social Security kicks in!  At any rate, these few days gave us an opportunity to spend time together under one roof before everyone went on their individual paths.
Even though we were on vacation, some things still had to happen.  Last March I made the decision that I needed to lose some weight.  Actually, my doctor made that decision!   As a result, I’ve been on a pretty strict diet and exercise program that has resulted in me losing about 25 pounds.  So beach or no beach, I was determined that I would stay on schedule by running my three miles a day.  One point of clarification…to call it “running” is a pretty gross overstatement.  It’s really more of a glorified walk like an old man who’s lost his balance.  But I digress…
One early morning as I finished up my run, the air was filled with the smell of people cooking breakfast.  As a recovering fat guy who had just finished a painfully miserable hour of exercise, this was a welcome smell.  I began to think about the families cooking breakfast and wondered about their life stories.  No doubt, many were enjoying the experience of being with family, but I’m also sure many were facing other issues.  For some, their marriages might be on the verge of imploding, while others faced a life-changing diagnosis.  Whatever the situation, I knew that in the midst of the aroma of breakfast that behind every single door was a story.
At that point I was reminded of another morning that was spent around a breakfast.  In John 21 we find Peter and several of the disciples having failed miserably after a night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  At daybreak Jesus appeared to them and told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat.  Scripture tells us they caught so many fish they were unable to haul in the net.  Once they were together on the shore our Lord sat down and ate with them. 
After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon, Son of John, do you love me?”  To fully understand the depth of that question, we must remember that Peter was the leader of the disciples.  Always well-intentioned, he had walked beside Jesus for three years as one of his closest friends.  In fact, it was Peter who had grabbed a sword and cut off one of the servant’s ears when the temple guards came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It was also Peter who had denied even knowing Jesus.  Based on what had happened, Peter might have expected Jesus to call him impulsive, weak or loud, but to question his love for him had to hurt at the deepest levels of his soul. 
Then, in one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, Jesus restores Peter.  In this simple setting, following a breakfast of bread and fish, Jesus wipes away the hurt from the life of Peter and gives him a new calling:  “feed my sheep.”  The place in his heart that just moments before had been filled with guilt and failure was instantaneously replaced with forgiveness and a hope for the future.  In that instant, condemnation was overshadowed by acceptance and sorrow became peace.  Peter was now restored and the world would never be the same!
This past summer I had the privilege to travel to Israel with our choir from First Baptist Jackson.  As I stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at the historical site of Peter’s restoration, I reached down into the edge of the water and picked up a rock.  That rock, which sits on my desk, is not very extraordinary, but it reminds me of an extraordinary truth:  that even with all my hurts, failures and shortcomings, because of the price that Jesus paid at Calvary I can be restored and my ministry made new!   This old rock constantly reminds me that our success, or the impact of our church, is not dependent on our flawed abilities but on the grace of Jesus Christ on our lives.   Yes, like Peter we are flawed and damaged.  More importantly, like Peter we can be restored! 
And just think…it all started with breakfast!

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