“We do not need to go away into the depths and the darkness in order to realize the warmth of the light.” MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture
It was troubling for me yesterday to read a meditation about a passage in John which discussed Peter going back to his “old” life as a fisherman and forgetting about Jesus. I had never really seen it that way. I imagined Peter more in an unconscious waiting period, going back to what he knew with the disciples who were now his brothers. It bothered me because I reflected on my own life, going back to the work that I knew, and feeling somewhat criticized by someone else’s words on a page judging Peter. I felt that they were also judging me.
I meditated on John 21:1-14 all day. It bothered me. I didn’t and couldn’t believe that Peter was back on the fishing boat because he had forgotten all about Jesus. The way I saw it, he hadn’t received his divine instructions yet, so he and his friends went back to the place that Jesus had found them in the state that Jesus had found them. He went back to the last place where God had him. The last place where God spoke to him.
This filled me with hope. I had done the same. I went back to the place where I first found God. I was a little over two years into my new job when Jesus found me. I also left everything behind when He called me, and after going through my own refinement, returned to the place where God found me, this time happy to wait…
The environment hadn’t changed, the job hadn’t changed, it was me who had changed. Like the old saying goes, “I being in the way, the Lord met me.”
So why did Peter go back?
“The best preparation for Christ’s appearance , and the best attitude to be found in by Him, is doing our daily work, however secular and small it may be. A dirty, wet fishing boat, all slimy with scales, was a strange place in which to wait for the manifestation of a risen savior. But it was the right place, righter than if they had been wandering about amongst the fancied sanctities of the synangogues… Jesus Christ will come to you and me in the street if we carry the waiting heart there, and in the shop, and the factory, and the counting-house, and the kitchen, and the nursery and the study, or wherever we may be. For all things are sacred when done with a hallowed heart, and He chooses to make Himself known to us amidst the dusty commonplaces of daily life.” MacLaren’s beautiful words once again!
I read that line and in that moment my heart exploded. This truth that has just permeated my being since my year in refinement. I, like Peter had made so many mistakes,-so much unbelief, twisted perceptions and looking for God in places that I had no business being. I, like many wanted a new and different life. I had hoped my call as a Christian writer might lead me to “bigger and better” things. I saw my secular career as something I wanted to let go of, someplace God could never use. I thought that this placement was not intentional by God, that there was something “bigger” out there for me. So he let me leave my life behind and try a different life, the one I had envisioned in my dreams. He didn’t leave me, He just stayed quietly by me. And when I messed up He picked me up, He never let me go to far- and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
Peter’s return to his fishing boat is the quiet yet powerful reminder to go back to the last thing God told you to do. Had Peter been anywhere else, he would have missed his calling. God may have waited, but the story may have ended up different. And as Catholics, we believe that Peter was the first pope.
So if you are in the stage of your journey where you are unsure about where you are- the place, your state in life as a single person, your job, don’t doubt for a second that if God has not moved you, you are right where you are supposed to be. Go to the place where God found you, be in the state where God found you… he doesn’t want you to be anywhere else.
“And be sure that sooner or later you will see Him standing on the beach, and hear His voice, and be blessed by His smile.”
MacLaren’s beautiful words