“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
“Shepherd my sheep.”
–from John 21:16 NASB
When I was 16, I spent some time with my sister’s in-laws at their house on a lake. One huge draw was the ski boat. We spent some fun but exhausting days out on the lake. Then came the day I got to drive the boat. I had been watching Ray intently and was eager to try something new. It took a few tries to get the skier up smoothly, but that third time was going great…until the skier wiped out and I put the boat into a “power turn” that I couldn’t recover from.
I hadn’t counted on the force of the water against the rudder keeping me from straightening out the boat, and I raced back across all the ski ropes, tangling them in a huge knot around the propellers.
Over the next half-hour, Ray patiently untangled the knot; I sank deeper and deeper into shame. I made my way to the back of the boat and sat down. He finished untangling the ropes, climbed up into the boat, and instead of taking his seat behind the wheel, he came and sat next to me.
“Did you learn anything?” he asked.
“Yes. I’m not good at driving a boat.”
He wasn’t pulled into my pity party. “Did you learn anything useful?” he tried again.
“Yes,” I answered, this time taking him more seriously. “I needed to let up on the throttle before turning the boat so hard.”
“Great!” he said, folding his hands behind his head as he lay back. “Now get back up there and try again.”
Forty years later I’ve never forgotten that failure, the incredible sense of shame I had, the work he had to do to untangle my mess-up, and the way he so generously released me from my mistake and gave me the power to try again. And I’ve never forgotten that Ray had a vision for something I could do beyond what I could envision for myself.
The stories of Peter in the Bible often strike me as larger than life—he’s so outspoken, so quick to correct, so full of himself.
But Peter failed, and failed big. He probably never forgot a single detail of the scene in the courtyard that night when he denied Jesus three times. He probably never forgot the sense of shame while looking into Jesus’ eyes (Luke 22:61) as he walked out of the courtyard. And he most certainly never forgot the work Jesus did to untangle his mess-up.
Jesus walked with Peter one morning and asked him simply, “Do you love me?” When Peter answered affirmatively, Jesus responded, “Shepherd my sheep,” for Jesus had a vision for Peter greater than Peter could ever envision for himself.
ACTION: What failure has helped you to understand that Jesus has a vision for you beyond what you can envision for yourself? How do you work through the shame of that failure? What about Jesus gives you the courage to lay aside that shame and live in the freedom of Jesus’ vision for you?