I watch my kids run in circles around the loop of our family, kitchen, and dining rooms. In worn out pink glitter shoes they run the same path, the dumb Mr. Darcy chasing, and they squeal when he gets too close. Despite his gentleness, when 75 lbs of unstoppable dog is running after you, it is bound to increase your heart rate and decibel of your scream. They circle and circle and circle, until I eventually force them to stop before someone gets hurt. It wears them out. It wears me out just watching them.
I sit at my computer, with Bible open and books abounding, seeking growth. God has given me a heart for study, and so I study. I want to grow and be more like Him. I want to be different today than I was yesterday. But sometimes, a lot of the time, I feel like one of my kids running laps around the house in worn out shoes. Out of breath, heart rate through the roof, and growing more and more tired of the same scene with every passing lap. It wears me out.
I sat this morning arguing with the text in front of me. Would someone please tell me I am not the only person that does this. I had circled this lap too many times to not be aggravated by its accusations. First I called my husband, but he didn’t have time to discuss theology with me while he was working. He suggested we talk at lunch, but I don’t have patience for that. I was mad at breakfast, lunch was equivalent to never…too long to wait. So I went to scripture and started trying to make the scriptures argue this one out with me. That got confusing. Then I emailed my pastor, the most intelligent man I personally know. Surely he could help iron out the wrinkles of my struggling. By the time I was done with my frantic search and bible study, I was ticked off, keyed up, discouraged, and off to start my morning by teaching my kids Bible. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that reality. Maybe I’ll do both. Yes, I think I will. Oh the irony.
We sat and opened the Word to John. As we do most mornings, our talking took us bouncing down rabbit trails, and I suddenly found myself sitting in a boat with Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples, on the Sea of Tiberias. We were hoping to have fish for dinner; but now it was morning and we still had an empty boat. Discouraged and downtrodden. And then there was Peter. Oh Peter. You denied the One you loved 3 times. The guilt must have ached in his heart with a throbbing no one could comfort. The sting of regret seeps deep into the soul like poison. And there he sat, hungry, and tied up in knots. There I sat in my blue chair in front of my girls, hungry for truth, and tied up in the same kind of fisherman knots.
And with one word, Jesus shatters the deafening silence of that kind of frustration and despair. He walks out onto the sandy shores to meet his desperate fisherman in their empty boats, and says “Friends”. He called them his friends. Do you know what that is? It’s grace. It’s nothing but grace. And it doesn’t matter how many times you and I circle the same lap over and over and over again. We are always going to come back to the same thing. Grace. He finds us empty and confused and he says “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” And when we answer the obvious, “No”, He is faithful to say, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
I’m going to keep saying it until it sinks in for you, and until it takes deep root in my thirsty soul. It’s all grace. It’s all grace. It’s all. nothing. but. grace. And now if you will excuse me, I like Peter have sheep to feed. They are darling and cute, and they wear pink sparkly TOMS. Amen, and praise the Lord.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10