Swapping Stories

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“Let’s take a walk.”

The invitation was simple but penetrated Peter’s broken heart with the depth and precision of a targeted arrow.

He was still agonizingly sad because of his abject failure under pressure. His crash had been epic and catastrophic. He knew it. He felt it at gut level.

Now the One he had so vehemently denied and bitterly betrayed was inviting him for a stroll down the beach. Just the two of them.

The talk.

Peter had expected this. He figured the confrontation might be tough, but he also knew that to be fully restored to the relationship he had with Jesus before the breach required the talk.

It was kind of Jesus to pick Peter’s turf…the seaside that had shaped so much of his life and character. Peter felt at home there. Safe. He fit. By having the talk there, it seemed the Master was giving him a new beginning; a do-over.

As they walked, sand between their toes and the lake sloshing serenely at their feet, Peter was gently convicted, lovingly challenged and newly commissioned. Jesus warned him about what lay ahead, the difficult journey that was to be Peter’s future.

This talk should have settled everything in Peter’s mind. The past was resolved, the future fixed. He and Jesus together again fishing for men.

But at this point in the story we see a hint of the struggle involved in making a comeback from the tough moments and bitter memories of the past. An innocuous comment by the newly minted Apostle unveils this dilemma.

Peter glanced over his shoulder and saw John tailing them at a distance. John–Jesus’ best friend; closest confidant. Peter asks Jesus, “What about him?”

Was Peter envious of John’s intimacy with Jesus? Was he wondering if somehow this disciple would have a life more impacting or significant than his own?

Did he want to swap stories?

He undoubtedly knew that John had stayed with Jesus all the way to the cross. He heard that Jesus had actually tasked John to care for Mary–a special, unique Kingdom obligation.

Perhaps he thought John’s future held some grand and glorious role in the divine narrative. Or he may have believed that he would only be a bit player because of his past. He was looking back at the undeniable failure of his past or forward to the uncomfortable details of his future, and perhaps wishing he was John.

John…the dependable, the friend, the comrade.

John, the beloved.

If we are honest, most of us would prefer to change places–swap stories–with at least one person we know.

The story God is writing in the lives of those we observe around us can seem so much more interesting, appealing or important than our own. Ours is messier, more conflicted and complex…a story with an unraveling plot.

Too often we look:

Regretfully at yesterday and wonder “what if?”
Apprehensively at today and question “what good?”
Uneasily at tomorrow and muse “what for?”

Our real, personal story often appears too mundane to be meaningful; to painful to be purposeful; too ugly to be useful.

But as his life unfolded, Peter discovered what each of us must embrace. The story Jesus writes in each us is:

Individual–your life is unique within the story God is writing
Indispensable–your life is essential to the story God is writing
Integral–your life fits in the story God is writing

When we offer our saga–with all its ugly moments and difficult seasons–unreservedly to Jesus, He weaves it into His greater narrative to make more of our story than we could ever dream.

Like Peter, we make History.

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