When I first came to know Christ I was obsessed with the Apostle Paul. Reading through the book of Acts and his conversion experience in chapter 9 reminded me of my own story. I can vividly remember telling my friend, Joe Broussard, that I was “just like Paul.” Little did I know how arrogant it was for me to claim any such resemblance. He was quick to point out, actually, that I was more like Peter. And little did I know how insulting that was.
Peter was a man of tremendous passion. He was ready, fire, aim in most situations. He was often the first to speak and the first to be rebuked. His impulsive nature got him in a ton of trouble.
I think that’s why Joe was right. As I look back at my faith journey, it has been much more like Peter than Paul. Peter was a roughneck. He was a calloused-handed fisherman who boasted of his great faith and commitment, yet found himself denying Christ after His arrest (Matthew 26). My testimony was full of these moments of regret. Walking with God was a very tumultuous experience for me in the early days. Old habits were hard to break and I often found myself crying out to God through tears. Again.
This statue is on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. During my time there I would often sit and reflect upon Peter and his tendency to speak so boldly and cower so quickly. I was taken by the veins on Peter’s arms and the look on his face. The frail Jesus wipes the dirty feet of the burly fisherman. I was also reminded that the real beauty in Peter’s story is not how he started but how he finished.
Tucked in the recesses of John 21 is a section of Scripture that focuses on the restoration of Peter. It takes place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee near the hot spring of Tabgha. It was on this very shore that Jesus took the crumbled Peter and restored him once more.
Peter had imploded under the pressure of the arrest of Jesus and had denied Him three times. It was on these very shores that Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” Complete restoration.
Peter had a rocky start, but his brokenness made him a man of God refined in the fire! Peter takes the gospel and becomes the figurehead of the church. From Acts 2-10, he is the star of the text. The difference is that he’s not drawing attention to himself, but rather walking in the brokenness of his past. His humility and the understanding of that suffering had forever changed him.
I keep this rock (below) in my office as a reminder of the breaking and restoration of my hero. Though I have grown a bit, I’m not immune to repeating the sins of my past. I picked this rock out of the stream you see above. It serves as a strong reminder that God uses broken, impetuous, tenacious men for His own glory – but only after breaking them deeply. I am grateful for the pain of my past and thankful for the work God has done in my life through many tears.
I wanted to write this post to give some of you hope. You may find yourself repeating the same mistakes you’ve made over and over again. Be encouraged. God is a faithful God who will continue to move you to repentance. But also beware. The consequences of sin are out of your hands. Until God breaks you deeply, you will never be used mightily for Him.
So lean into the Lord. Do not resist His hand of refinement. He is shaping you. It is painful, but it is worth it. Once we are through the furnace, we are brought out of the other side with a greater understanding of the love of God.
My friends, never forget where you came from. Our past shapes who we are today and motivates us to never live like that again!
Here’s to the restoration of Peter – and the hope of continued restoration of the broken.