My husband and I took a little three-day weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina recently to see some old friends. It’s become a bit of an annual getaway in which we leave kids and all the cares of regular life behind (sort of) and just enjoy the special richness that comes from a decade-long friendship. No one feels like they have to be anything they’re not, or keep from saying anything they really need to say. To be totally cliche: it’s real. And in a world where a lot of things seem pretty darn manufactured, that’s refreshing.
One of the things we discussed on the first night was that, breaking tradition after several years, we skipped our trip in 2012 and consequently had spent two years apart. So much had transpired in our lives. It was like a panicked frenzy to try to cover everything we had all missed in those 24 months, trying to keep chronology in mind as we traversed through all the details of work, family, other friendships, huge losses and astounding blessings. And that’s when I realized that the last time I’d seen them, I had no idea how much the Lord was going to do in my life before I’d see them again. I started to recount those things and I was struck by the fact that I should do this more often: think back, say, two years, and consider how far He’s brought me. How far He’s brought me away from some things, how far He’s brought me to walk into others.
My friend’s husband told us that when he was traveling in Israel last spring, his pastor and guide told him that when Jesus was resurrected, He immediately set out to find Peter, who, as we all know, had denied even knowing Jesus just three days before. According to the guide, the location that Jesus had been buried was about three hours away from the Sea of Galilee where Peter was fishing – three hours away by bus. It would have taken Jesus several days to get to Peter on foot – and still, Jesus went. Jesus went because He knew that Peter was where he’d always been, where he was always going to be unless Someone stepped in and opened His eyes to a broader horizon, to a life with much bigger scope than he could imagine for himself: on the water. Jesus had found Peter fishing three years before and He knew that now, after Peter was probably stumbling to make sense of the execution of his friend and Teacher, Peter would go back to what he’d always done, to what he knew. He’d find a boat, grab some nets, and fish. And that’s exactly where Jesus found him. That’s the point on the map where Jesus set his course when He rose from the grave: to find Peter. It was intentional, it was purposed, and most of all: it wasn’t convenient. It wasn’t an easy, I’ll-just-swing-by kind of pit stop. It was out of His way. But it was exactly where He wanted to be.
My friend’s pastor said that this is a picture of how Jesus is with each of us. He’s constantly pursuing us. And Peter, fishing, is a picture of what we do, over and over again, when we need so desperately to be pursued. Like Peter, our mistakes and our regrets send us running. And usually running back to the place Jesus first found us: in our sin. We have that tendency, to feel like we’ve blown it, and so we might as well throw in the towel and retreat to a place – or a person, or a habit, or a mindset – that feels comfortable. Jesus always goes out of His way to reach our hearts. He did it when He came as an infant. He did it when He rose and sought out a distraught and totally guilty fisherman. And He does it, over and over again, with you and me.
Looking back over the last two years, it’s interesting and fun to see the blessings He has given me. But looking at them in the light of all the ways He’s pursued me is more mind-blowing. He could have stopped bothering. But He knows that for me, as it is with you – and as it was with Peter – there is someone, Someone, who is writing a story with my life that is far greater than I can write for myself. Who is charting a course for my journey that leads to a final destination far more beautiful than I can imagine. All those blessings aren’t just good things for now; they’re pieces of the best things I’ll get to have in full, forever, because He came after me – and He always will.
In what ways has He pursued you lately?