Peter’s feet found the sea bottom. His water logged pants made it hard to walk and he wanted to run.
There is a place far beyond human connection and if you can reach it, the games of social positioning and play acting are gone. There is mutual vulnerability and comfort. You can explore every facet of the human condition, the tricks and triggers of the mind and flesh, but you’re exploring these things from a distance and without fear. The differences and details of others are appreciated, not envied or looked down on. Life is understood and learned from. Silence is pregnant with thought. Thought is fresh and full of life that is otherwise completely missed.
When you spend most of your time in this place then the ‘regular’ life–the going to the mall life, the small talk life, the ‘be seen’ life–is an energy zapper, thought suppressor, …little fire ants nipping at your intellect. Jesus was a beckoning index finger through a heavy curtain between the layers. In all the pockets of thought and philosophy, Jesus added a much freer possibility. Freer because the potential for life entered the realm of eternity or infinity. Jesus was someone who didn’t have as much trouble forgetting the possibilities. Conversations with him send you hiking with backpacks and lanterns through territories your brain isn’t used to traveling. He can keep going, dying to show you more, but you need to rest. Bonfires crackle, bodies sleep on a bed of earth and minds continue to spin through the mysteries of life while you dream.
That’s what being His friend is like. Inspiring is too translucent a word, but He stirs something deep within, yet far, far outside. He uncovers buried treasure in your spirit, but takes you away from your natural self and lets you escape the heavy shoes of naturalism, the shoulder shrugging of agnosticism and the back patting of conformism.
People who live on that level are hard to find. There’s an immediate connection and bond when you do find one. Jesus was the ultimate find. He opened eyes people didn’t know they had. He’s yoga for the brain. If you could follow him in a conversation, his excitement grew until he brought you to your barrier of understanding, then he got quiet, went off on his own and thought by himself.
Seeing Him on the beach, tending a fire, grinning from knowing, was a brand new territory for Peter. Jesus brought thought into physical and acted like nothing while the men gathered around. Speechless.
Peter pulled his drooping pants up and pushed his soaked hair away from his eyes. Jesus was poking the fire with a stick while flames danced in His eyes. It’s almost like He thinks He’s funny, transcending levels of consciousness like this. Effortlessly moving from eternity to time, from time to eternity. This was the third time He’d done it so far. What would today be? Peter was so lost in life without Him. Being here seemed pointless after all he had learned and he didn’t know what to do with his life now that Jesus was gone. He just wanted to go with Him, wherever He was now, he wanted to go…now.
But, Jesus wanted to eat.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” -John 21:10
Peter wanted to talk to him. His heart was on fire while he forced himself to wait until the right time. He didn’t feel like eating. He didn’t feel like talking. He didn’t feel like sitting there. He wanted out of this world. He wanted to eat the meal with Jesus wherever Jesus was eating these days. He wanted to sleep on a bed of dirt with a pillow of rock and talk about the mysteries again. He wanted to be able to shut both his eyes when Jesus was around, not afraid that He would slip away when he fell asleep. Then he could relax, then he could eat and sleep and feel secure. Peter was fidgety. Agitated. His spirit was on fire while his eyebrows furrowed.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” -John 21:15
Simon, son of John… Peter’s heart ached. The phrase ‘son of John’ tied him to earth. An uncut umbilical cord tying him down like a grounded kite.
Peter’s heart ached. Here he was with precious few moments with his friend and he couldn’t get himself together. Jesus must have noticed his distance and had to ask the most horrible question ever. ‘Do you love me?’
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.” –John 21:15
Take me with you. Please, get me out of here. That’s what he wanted to say, but he didn’t.
“Feed my lambs.” -John 21:15
No, don’t give me something to do here! Peter’s eyes stung. He swallowed hard. He didn’t speak because his heart was quaking and his voice would have shaken. He looked down and focused on Jesus’ feet. Feet he’s watched kick up dust on a road in the middle of nowhere. Feet he’s watched climb steps to houses He never should have been in. Feet he’s seen the bottom of when Jesus was kneeling across the room washing the feet of everyone else.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” -John 21:16
Peter drew in a long breath that shuddered in his chest. He blinked the tears away and looked Jesus square in the eye.
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.” -John 21:16
Peter knew that Jesus knew. What is this? Why is He doing this?
“Shepherd my sheep.” –John 21:16
Peter clenched his jaw and felt his abdomen tighten.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.” -John 21:17
Peter brought his fist to his mouth to pinch his lips between his thumb and teeth, trying to squeeze the pain from watering his eyes. He raised his eyebrows, took a deep breath and nodded.
Jesus started something that Peter had to maintain. Jesus taught him how to live on that other level and sent His Spirit to draw him even further. Peter had to keep camping out, keep building fires, keep kicking up dust because that’s the way Jesus said he could show his love.
“I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” -John 21:18
Following Jesus, really following, is the hardest thing to do. You have to learn to despise your own name. You have to trust while you go through the things that make it possible to despise your own name. You have to walk down paths you would never walk had you been given the choice.
We’re still travelers on the train and He’s gone to ‘prepare a place’ for us. We can sit and ache or we can try to find the others. Some of them don’t know who they are yet and they need to be found.
If you’re out there, do you get it? Are you found?
You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. -John 14:2-3