Prostitutes around a charcoal fire.
Forgive the abrupt starting and stopping of the stories that appear on this blog. Time constraints and busyness of nursing school coming to finals has taken the priorities of writing the thoughts of my heart. But after what I heard yesterday, I couldn’t let my thoughts go unshared.
Meaning no copyright infringement to Kris’ (http://kristianwithak.com) sermon, he got my wheels turning, as he often does as he shares the Word.
I was enlightened as I made the connections of the charcoal fire on the beach in John 21. I had never made the connection until I heard it this past Sunday. To sum up, if you look back to chapter 18 of John, we see the first reference to charcoal. Peter denies Christ around the charcoal fire three times. Then we see it again in 21, where Jesus has built a charcoal fire on the beach. But this time we see Peter proclaim his love for Christ three times. I don’t think that’s coincidence, as Kris said, I can see Jesus giving him a slight smile the last time He told Peter to feed His sheep. And I can’t help but think that at that third time, Peter realized what he had done. His positive actions and proclamations juxtaposed against his past denials. He couldn’t be the same after that.
Another point in the sermon was in Hosea. Another quick summary. Hosea marries a prostitute who continues to leave him and betray him and run from him. But God tells Hosea to keep chasing her, keep loving her, no matter what. And here we see God’s broken relationship with the nation of Israel. You can’t escape God’s love.
After the sermon was over I started mulling it over on the way home. What more am I than a prostitute huddled around a charcoal fire? And not just me, but anyone who knows Christ and understands His grace. Our broken lives, running from God, denying Him, whatever the case may be. We run and run. Keep sinning, keep falling, keep failing. Around every corner, we find our own charcoal fire, our own place where we turn into Peter. Around every corner there’s a charcoal fire where we deny God. It may not be purposeful or our intention but I know for me it happens. If we don’t take every opportunity that we have to share Jesus with people aren’t we denying? When I was younger, my parents would always say that omitting to tell the truth is as bad as a lie. Who knew they were right? Just kidding, ma. You’re always right. But if we aren’t telling, then I’m under the impression that we’re lying. Maybe lying is a poor choice of word here, maybe denying fits better. So here we are, the Peter’s of the world, running around fire-hopping. And we always will be. Aren’t we Israelites? Running from God, disobeying, putting things before Him. Aren’t we Peter? Aren’t we Hosea’s prostitute wife, running from him and breaking his heart around every corner? But as my thoughts kept forming I found comfort in His grace. In the stories referenced, there’s always the same outcome. He’s there. He’s chasing us. He calls us back home. We’re His. No matter how many times we turn away. No matter what it is that we have done, He won’t leave.
And when He doesn’t leave, He comes back. Just like in John 21. He comes back, sets up our charcoal fire and gives us another chance. We can deny or proclaim. Now this may not be the case for every individual, so don’t take my words as bible thumping, or telling people where they go wrong. But we all fall. That’s a given. So this is for me, for when I don’t tell someone about the One I love. When I start putting the charcoal down in front of the brothel. So is my goal, to share Him with anyone who I meet. Maybe that’s yours too. I don’t know. But I do know that when I do fail, or fall He’ll be there to catch me. Maybe He’ll have the fire ready and that cheeky grin that I imagine He gave Peter, but He’ll be there. And I think that’s the most comforting of all. I can’t undo His love. Neither can you.