I sit on a plane.
Watching a sunset out my window.
Delayed but now on my way home.
I feel the familiar joy of spending myself for the sake of others.
God’s Spirit in me and on me.
I recognize the way that God moves.
This time had the mark of God’s presence.
Often life feels like movement,
Events to major milestones
Progressing on a linear pathway,
More rapid as the years go by.
I’ve been warned this happens.
I first came to this state of Texas as an 18-year-old.
I learned so much there.
I grew and stretched.
Welcomed and loved.
I kept returning to God.
Getting back up again.
God’s relentless love shaping and reshaping me.
As I revisit places I’ve been –
physical, embodied returns,
as well as mental and emotional journeys back –
I see a cycle of salvation,
birth and rebirth.
I witness the worn path,
then the plunge…
I’ve been here before,
however I come back differently.
I return relieved,
Peter denies Jesus at the charcoal fire, John’s gospel tells us.
and spiritually cut off from warmth.
In John 21, Jesus brings Peter back to the place of his pain
to bring him healing.
We find Peter by a charcoal fire,
this time on a beach.
“Do you love me more than these?” Jesus asks Peter.
This time, Peter’s answer isn’t the bold and confident one of before. The disciple formerly cried out quickly, “Of course! I would give everything for you – even give my life!”
He answers with humility, aware of his own humanity.
In coming to Jesus fully human,
Peter is gifted with his calling, a calling that isn’t outside of his humanity, but connected to it.
It’s not due to superhuman strength or loyalty or the way he got it right when the rest didn’t. Instead, Jesus calls him as one who understands first-hand the compassion and tenderness of Jesus.
He asks him to ‘feed my lambs.’
As Peter had been tenderly pursued by the Shepherd of his soul, he is now called upon to shepherd the others.
In Peter’s conversation with Jesus he is restored.
Wholeness is his. Integration between his past and his present.
Jesus brings us to the charcoal fires, the places of pain in our own story, in order to bring a breakthrough. Carrying us to the healing and integration we long for.
The journey is lifelong.
Progress is messy.
The love of God is breathtaking.
To what “charcoal fires” is God inviting you to return?
How is your calling connected with your humanity, ie your own experience with Jesus?
*Airplane photography from Pexels.com