*image credit: K Schwahn
God has a very different way of getting one’s attention. Most people call out a name, a nickname even, or something that will gain their attention. This past Sunday, I didn’t preach. I couldn’t go more than a few words without coughing and hacking. So, instead, one of our deacons stepped in and preached in my place. I was able to listen that morning, and it was in that moment that God began a new journey within my heart. During that time Sunday morning, I heard an old, almost haunting call. Not too far removed from hearing and old song from years gone by, and immediately you are taken back to that time, to a specific memory, smell, sound etc. It was the call of a friend, and not just any friend, that Friend.
In John 21, Jesus has been crucified, dead, buried, and now risen again. He’s appeared a couple times to His disciples already, but now is standing on the shoreline, where He gave Peter (formerly known as Simon), James, and John, the fork in the road that would forever change their lives. They were in a boat, had been fishing all night, and had nothing to show for it. (Almost identical to the story in Luke 5). But this time when He calls out to them, He calls them “Friends!” Now what happens next could only be understood by these three. For what is mirrored in Luke 5, certainly blew their minds. What happens now, could only be done by the One who was there before. Jesus asks if they caught anything, they say no. He tells them to cast it on the right side. They do. The net begins to writhe and wiggle in their hands. The strain is too great for just one man to hold. And in that moment it clicks. John smells the old, familiar smell of a few years ago, when this same thing happens. Dots are connected, the figure on the beach, waving; the great number of fish; and the impossibility of it all taking place…again. John exclaims to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
In this moment, Jesus meets His friends in exactly where He knew they would be. But in my opinion, I don’t think it was simply because He “knows all,” but in a more personal way, because He knew His friends, and knew that’s where they’d be.
It was as if Jesus quietly whispered to me, “I know you, friend.” The temptation and struggle with being a Christian, and being a pastor, is that it can become quite professional, and less and less personal. And in this moment, Jesus called from the shoreline, waving, beckoning me to join Him at His campfire, with breakfast already on, and most likely the percolator perking. Not in a formal, professional manner, but simply as a friend.