Does your life need a course correction?
Has your life turned out the way you expected? Probably not. Some life situations are unexpected but wonderful. Of course, there are bound to be disappointments in life too. And some life events seem to shove our life off the rails. Then we have to figure out how to get back on track.
Perhaps your dreams of marriage or career didn’t entirely turn out the way you wanted, so you made adjustments. Many people desire to travel, but something always gets in the way. Dreams, ambitions, hopes, and expectations may run into roadblocks or diversions.
Life is not a straight line! Nor is it a steady trajectory up. Although it may seem to spiral downward, our lives are often pretty level. Ok, maybe even dull. Life is full of ups and downs—marriage, family, work, relationships, and even plans for vacations or days off. This is true for us as followers of Jesus and those who choose to go their own way in life.
The primary purpose for the Lord Jesus to come, live, die, and rise from the dead was to bring reconciliation and restoration (2 Cor. 5:17-21). His resurrection from the dead assures us of this. And yet, how the Lord led His disciples often mystified them more than it made sense.
Jesus had a strategy for establishing the church, but it defied human logic. It centered around twelve men He discipled, although one failed to make the cut. Jesus trained them on the go. He taught the disciples through various situations in their travel and life together. The disciples seemed to struggle along the way, but where we see weakness, He saw strength. Even in failure, He saw the opportunity for restoration.
In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times—”Do you love Me?” Each time Peter answered in the affirmative, Jesus gave him a specific exhortation related to Peter’s affirmations (John 21:15-19). This is how Jesus restored Peter after he denied knowing the Lord three times on the night Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, and condemned to death.
But we need to go back to the beginning of Peter’s encounter with Jesus to understand this restoration process’s significance fully. There’s more to it than reversing Peter’s denials. Jesus was setting Peter back on track with his first calling.
As we often find in the gospels, crowds of people pressed in close on Jesus when He taught them. During one of those times, Jesus got into the boat of a fisherman named Simon (Peter) and asked him to push out from the shore while Jesus sat down and taught. When Jesus finished teaching, He asked Peter to launch out into the deeper water and let his nets down to catch some fish.
Peter protested at first, “Teacher, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll lower the nets.” This type of discourse between Peter and Jesus became common. The Lord would say something, and Peter would counter it with his idea that often brought correction or a rebuke by Jesus.
When Peter and his men lower the nets into the deep water, the empty nets fill beyond capacity with fish and begin tearing. This results in Peter’s partners needing to help with this miraculous catch. They fill two boats to the point of sinking with all the fish. As Peter sees this enormous catch, he falls prostrate at Jesus’ feet and declares, “Leave me, Lord! I’m a sinful person!” Peter understood he was in the presence of someone greater than himself. The miracle shakes Peter to his core and reveals the nature of this rabbi named Jesus.
Everyone else is amazed by all the fish caught, including Peter’s partners, but the miracle has a greater purpose than the excitement it generates. It was the way Jesus stirred Peter’s heart to follow Him. Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will catch people instead of fish.” Peter, his brother Andrew, James, and John all left their boats and livelihood to follow Jesus, as we are told in Luke 5:1-11.
Later, as the time drew close for Jesus to fulfill His redemptive mission, He brought His followers to an area above the Galilee region. Caesarea Philippi is a beautiful area for a retreat by the headwaters of the Jordan River.
While Jesus gathered His disciples together, He asked them two probing questions. The first was about what they heard about Him—“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They told Him some thought Jesus was John the Baptizer back from the dead, possibly Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets, even Elijah.
Jesus followed up with a more pointed question—“Who do you say I am?” Peter immediately blurted out—“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” Jesus informs Peter that it wasn’t His physical presence or Peter’s intelligence that enabled him to know this but was a revelation from God the Father.
This is a major turning point for His followers. They finally realize who Jesus is, and He assures them that His church (His followers) will be built upon this important confession of truth (Eph 2:20) and that they will overcome every obstacle without being overcome by the power of hell. You can read this story in Matthew 16:13-18.
At this point in Peter’s life, following Jesus is going pretty well. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way, and Jesus needs to remind Peter who’s in charge, but he seems to be at the top of the class. Peter evolves into the Lord’s point man among the apostles and is on track with the call of God for his life. If only it could last. But there is more to Peter’s story that is relevant for all of us. This is just the backstory.
Sometimes we lose perspective in our lives, which causes us to get a bit off track from the path the Lord lays out for us. This is the early part of the larger story for Peter, and I believe it applies to you as it does to me. We will pick that up in Part 2 – “Getting Back on Track.” Until then, consider these questions—
What is going well in your life now?
Have you seen your life get off track at times?
Have you realized how the Lord brought correction when your life got off track?