Here in the United States, we recently changed our clocks by “springing forward an hour”, giving us more daylight in the evening hours. I love this time of year and really enjoy the vibrancy this change brings. I learned today there is a bill in the Senate, called the Sunshine Protection Act, that advocates for keeping this time change permanent, meaning we would not “fall back” in November. I have been wanting this for years and I really hope it passes.
In addition to the time change, this weekend also marked the one year anniversary of when our country shut down in response to the COVID pandemic. After the year we have had, I really don’t want to to “fall back” into any of our old habits that no longer make sense. For me, this includes a schedule packed too tightly for family meals together or an obligation to say yes more than I say no. Instead, family meals have become the priority and yes does not come as quickly or as freely as it used to. Can you relate?
We may have changed our clocks, but are we actually springing forward? We are all at risk of falling back into the same routines God has moved us away from. Peter gives us an example of what this looks like in John 21. Jesus had been crucified but there were reports He was actually alive. A resurrected Jesus had previously appeared to the disciples for a short time while they were huddled in the upper room. By this point, Peter had left his previous life to follow Jesus and spent a significant amount of time as His disciple witnessing hundreds or even thousands of miracles prior to becoming aware of the greatest miracle of all: the resurrection of Messiah! If that won’t change you, I’m not sure what will.
However, some time had passed and Peter was unsure how to proceed amidst a new and uncertain normal. In John 21:3 Simon Peter said to the other disciples, “I am going fishing.” Jesus had previously taught Him to be fishing for the souls of man but for some reason, He went back to the familiarity of fishing in the sea. I am much more like Peter than I care to admit. After being changed by the events of the pandemic this past year, I often find myself going back to the old way of doing things. But Jesus does not take us through extraordinary circumstances for us to continue doing ordinary things.
It struck me how similar we actually are to Peter as so many of us are anxious to get back to “normal”. I believe Jesus has much bigger plans for us than whatever this thing called “normal” is. This past year brought significant change across the world. There is no going back to pre 2020 just as there is no going back to pre Sept 11th. We have to apply the lessons we have learned in some capacity as these type of events change the way we do things. That’s just the reality of it. As we spring forward into 2021, I feel Jesus calling us to walk a different path just as He did with Peter.
If we continue reading John 21 we find Jesus reappeared to the disciples as they were out fishing and again showed them a different way to do things. Not only did He (very patiently) tell them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat yet again, He reminded them why they were chosen to begin with. In a deeper conversation with Peter in verses 15-19, Jesus tells Peter to “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”. The message is clear: Peter was not to resume fishing the same way as before. Circumstances had changed and HE had been changed. He had a new purpose now that was very different from the normal he tried to go back to. Jesus also tells Peter it will not be easy and will cost him his life.
I very seriously doubt any of us will be called to death on a cross as Jesus foretold to Peter. However, we are called to present ourselves as a living sacrifice and we may certainly be “carried where we do not want to go” (verse 18). Jesus told Peter and He also tells us simply to follow Him. Peter (in true Peter fashion) then asked, “What about Him?”, referring to another disciple. Jesus makes it clear His instruction remained the same and was not dependent on Jesus’ plans for anyone else, which should be of no concern to Peter.
As we spring forward into 2021, what will we do differently? I pray we continue to move forward to new purposes rather than falling back into the same habits. We have been through something and we have been changed. We are no longer the same. It makes no difference what those around us choose to do. We are not to compare or copy anyone else as we have been set apart as children of God. Do we look different than we did before 2020? More importantly, do we look different than the world around us?
I believe Jesus is saying to each of us today: Don’t go back to the same way of living. Follow me!
He is doing something new. Do we perceive it?
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Stand up, shake off the dust, straighten your crown, and walk forward confidently grounded in truth.
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