It can feel difficult to fully step into who you were created to be.
Believe me, I know.
Things like risk, fear, shame, confusion or other challenges can muffle our ability to listen to our soul or pay attention to the unique longings and passions God put inside of us. As I’ve spent the past year focusing on finding my voice and understanding who God’s made me to be and what He has for me to do, I’ve found the apostle Peter to be a significant companion.
Specifically the story about Peter in John 21 has stood out to me (definitely take the time to read it). One of our pastors taught on it a while back and I’ve been captivated by Peter ever since. Bear with me here as I am not a Bible teacher, just a heart-sharer.
Peter was one of Jesus’ chosen disciples, but he repeatedly played out being a pretty fearful and sometimes even cowardly guy. He walked closely with Jesus for years and then denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but THREE times. And even after spending all that time with Jesus, experiencing Jesus’ death and seeing Jesus twice after He rose from the dead… Peter went right back to what he did before he met Jesus. He went back to fishing.
I don’t know about you, but I can definitely relate to going straight back to my old way of being, my old coping mechanisms, my old defenses. Even when I have seen and held a new way of being in my own hands. But that’s exactly where the story has really caught my attention over the past few months.
Peter and the other apostles hadn’t caught any fish throughout the night. As morning dawned, Jesus stood on the beach nearby and called out to them on the boat to see if they had caught anything. He said, “Children, you do not have any fish do you?”, already knowing they do not. Jesus then told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and immediately their nets were filled. In that moment, Peter and the apostles knew instantly the man on the shore was Jesus. When they reached the shore they were greeted by a warm fire and Jesus making them breakfast.
I love that detail of the story… Before anything else Jesus fed them, cared for them and loved them. Instead of reprimanding, judging or disapproving, Jesus lovingly provided for them.
After they had eaten Jesus asked Peter THREE times, “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me?” and each time Peter responded, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” By the third time Jesus asked this question, Peter felt grieved. With each of Peter’s confessions of love, Jesus responded by telling him to “tend My lambs”, “shepherd My sheep” and “tend My sheep”. Kind of redundant right?
After reading this chapter over and over, I see a few things.
I see a beautiful connection between Peter denying even knowing Jesus THREE times and Jesus offering Peter an opportunity to confess his love for Jesus THREE times. I imagine if I were Peter, I might have felt ashamed by Jesus’ line of questioning. Of course it was not Jesus’ intent to shame Peter over his previous denials of knowing Jesus. Instead, I see a tender offering of redemption here. I see Jesus offering Peter a sort of cleansing through allowing him to confess his love for Jesus THREE times. How we all need a gracious offering of a cleansing sometimes.
Jesus’ redundant command for Peter to tend his sheep is what has really sunk into my soul. I see Jesus gently and clearly reminding Peter who he is and what he’s been made to do. As if to say,
“Peter stop the charades. You might think you’re fearful or even cowardly. But I am going to make you bold and full of confidence. I want to use you. And you’re ready Peter. Just as you are. Relax into who I am making you to be, and just do what I made you to do…”
Like I said, this story is sinking deep into my soul. It has taken me a long time to start understanding who God has made me to be and what He’s created me to do. I still don’t understand it fully, but He’s shown me glimmers. And even then, it’s been a slow process to realize I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be like everybody else rather than claiming the uniqueness of me.
I think Jesus has been offering me a cleansing in many ways. Through emotional healing, finding my voice and increasing my resilience to shame. He’s also been gently reminding me over and over who He’s made me to be.
And I’m believing Him…
And I can sense Jesus saying,
“I have put things in your heart for a reason. Be confident and bold. Put your hand in mine, you’re ready. Just do what I made you to do…”
Today, if you find yourself knowing deep down who God’s made you to be and what He’s created you to do… even if you’ve only seen glimmers or even if you have never acknowledged it out loud… I invite you to start believing Him and living it. One baby step at a time.
And, today, if you find yourself feeling foggy about who God’s made you to be and what He’s created you to do… I offer you His holy and gentle invitation to explore these things. You are important and worthy enough to pay special attention to.
Is there something you know He’s made you to do? Who are you believing He’s made you to be?