One of the most poignant moments following Jesus’ resurrection is His encounter with Peter on that Galilean beach. (John 21) Three times after Christ’s arrest, Peter denied Him. Remember Peter’s bitter tears after the rooster crowed? (Luke 22)
The Apostle John’s story fascinates me: A simple fisherman, he was called by Jesus and lived alongside Him throughout His earthly ministry. John took Jesus’ mother Mary under his wing and cared for her, as requested by Jesus. He suffered flogging, imprisonment, interrogation, and exile. John’s brother and fellow apostle James was killed early on by the sword. John lived longer than any other apostle, pastoring in Ephesus, and was eventually banished to the Isle of Patmos in his old age. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelation.
Friday before Christmas, a wicked winter storm knocked out power for hundreds of thousands and trees were tossed like toothpicks in my hometown. It was frightening, to say the least, and some residents are still in the dark and cold. Fear comes in all varieties: fear of the storm, of death, of severe diagnosis, of poverty, of losing one’s job, and the list goes on.
I’ve had my share of “bad news.” I know you have too if you have lived long enough. I read somewhere that grief feels a lot like fear, and I admit this has been my experience. The inevitable, the avoid-at-all-costs thing that rears its ugly head and becomes a reality sometimes hits hard and fast, sometimes grows heavier with each passing day. When the future looms dark and petrifying, I want to deny, deflect and pretend.
January 2023… as the New Year dawns, I peer down the road brimming with uncertainties and possibilities and wonder, what will this year bring? As I reflect back on 2022, I ponder the past and wonder, what lingers? Ann Voskamp’s recent book, The Waymaker inspires me. Early on, she includes a reminder of ‘history’s first good question’ posed by God after the Fall.
I’ve been pondering this idea that the smile of Christ doesn’t just light up dark places, but is powerful, cutting through stormy skies with flashes of brilliance that both dazzle and intimidate. It is not the usual image I get when I think of Jesus smiling at me. That picture is more good-natured, tender, and often twinkly. But this other image…it’s a bit unnerving.