“Jesus, Thank you for this food and drink. Help it to nourish my body, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.”

Such a short prayer, simple, and to the point, and so easily forgotten. As with many young Christians, I grew up praying before each meal. I was taught to do this; while I don’t remember the reason that was presented, I knew it was important. I have fond memories surrounding that prayer in particular. While family gatherings are often a mixture of bitter and sweet, I have always loved them – for the most part at least. My grandfather always used to call on me to pray over the family meal because of how quickly I prayed. I sped through the prayer just as you would the ABC’s when you suddenly forget what comes after R, or some other alphabetical situation that befuddles you. Theoretically, I was happy to pray, it comforted my conscious. “Look at me Lord, I remembered You before partaking in a blessing.” I felt like a good Christian when praying for my meal, like I was somehow holier for speaking a few words before shoving morsels in my mouth. If I accidently skipped this prayer, I would always feel guilty, thinking that suddenly God would be disappointed in me.

As I grew older, I found ways to recite this prayer with discretion. My friends at the lunch table did not share this particular ritual, and I’ve never been one for pushing my thoughts on others. I kept it quiet, closed my eyes, thought the prayer, and then would move on to eating. There was even a time where I struggled being ashamed of this prayer. What if people thought it weird or unnecessary? Now, I’m not even sure if my friends noticed the silence. Over the years, I have been blessed with friends that respected this time, and would automatically quiet down until I finished and looked up. Somehow, this helped my fear subside. I realized it didn’t really matter what people thought. We all have our own ways of doing things.

While I am no longer ashamed, something new has begun to run over my mind lately. One day, I was sitting, relaxing, I don’t even remember what I was thinking about when a thought hit me. That day in particular, I had prayed several times for the different meals I had eaten. I realized that each time, I had said that prayer without even thinking about it. The words flowed over my mouth just as your muscle memory allows you to punch in the code on your phone. God showed me the intent of my heart that day and it hurt.

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

My prayers that day were no more righteous than the person who doesn’t pray over their meal. In fact, I would go to say my prayer, because of the motive, was not righteous at all. It was not the incense unto the Lord that I want my prayers to be (Psalm 141:2). It was hypocritical. I prayed thanksgiving to the Lord just like the Pharisees did (Luke 18:9-14), so that people could hear me, so that I could hear me. I truly was not thankful for the food that Jesus had given to me. Scripture says that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17) I may be wrong, but I consider food to be a good gift. A gift that I ought to truly be thankful for. In everything, I should give thanks. It’s easy to give thanks in the great things. It’s easy to remember that I should give thanks in the hard times. Yet, those days that seem mundane, the average ones where nothing sticks out, those are the days that I often forget just how good I have it.

I choose to continue praying over my meals, not with a guilty heart, nor with a habitual heart, but with one that will grow into a thankful heart. Maybe praying over your meal is not necessary, maybe it is. I am not God. I look to our example and see that Jesus blessed the meals that He ate many times in scripture. However, while learning about the heart of my God, I want to say this. I do not believe that the prayer is what really matters to our Lord Jesus. He knows the motive behind the action, and someone with a thankful heart is what pleases Him.

I pray that the Lord will continue to soften our hearts to the motives behind our actions, that we may have a heart after His.


How does Praise affect Sin?

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Isaiah 6:1-7

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with train he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

I find it interesting, that after witnessing the continual praise of the seraphims unto God, that the man of God, a man that God would show Himself unto, found himself to be unclean. Isaiah saw God. God allowed Isaiah to actually see Him! Yet this man of God claimed to be unclean – note that the word unclean here relates to being unclean religiously – this will tie back in later. Some things come to my mind here:

  • Had Isaiah realized just then, in that moment, the majesty and greatness of God? Had he served God until that point only to just then fully grasp Who God is? Did he just then start to understand what kind of God we have?
  • Was he a man of unclean lips due to his lack of praise and worship unto God? Were the people he was surrounded by of unclean lips because they did not praise God the way they should?


  • When his lips are purified of his sins, the seraphim uses a coal from the altar.
    • The altar is used to sacrifice or to burn incense (praises) unto God.
      • Psalm 141:2

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

  • The coal from the altar was a live coal. That means it was hot or alive so-to-speak.
    • Only living praise will have the sin-purging effect.
    • If your praise isn’t true, living, breathing out of you, it won’t have the effect God created it to have.
  • The coal of praise purged him of his “uncleanness”.
  • Praise is what took the iniquity away.
  • Notice also that the seraphim, a majestic being of God would not actually touch the coal itself. The seraphim used tongs to grab the coal, but he placed it completely upon Isaiah’s lips.
    • Does this point to the fact that the angel’s cannot praise God in the same way that we are to praise God?

Luke 17:11-19

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God., and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Isaiah was a man of God. He believed in God, but still had impurities.

These ten lepers were obedient and believed in God’s power! They were cleansed of their uncleanness.

We are cleansed of our sins by Jesus Christ.

The leper that came back, was not only cleansed but was made whole. His FAITH made him whole. Faith here relates to his “religion” being dependent upon Jesus wholly for his salvation. Remember where Isaiah’s uncleanness had to do with being unclean religiously… Could it be that Isaiah was unclean religiously because he did not fully depend upon God for his salvation?

If we do not fully depend upon God for our salvation, we will not praise Him as we ought. Only through our praise our we made whole. We can be saved from our sin but still fight with the aftermath of our choices. Only our praise will purge us from all the side effects of our sins. Only our praise to God will take away our iniquity. However, while we can be saved, we may still suffer. Only through faith can we truly be made whole.

Missions – Not What I Expected

I felt the call to be a missionary when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know that one way God would have me fulfill that call would be through teaching until about four years ago. Maybe one day I’ll travel around the world teaching the Good News. But right now, this is where I’m planted, to be the light to my kiddos in this broken system.

I remember it clear as day. I was eleven years old, sitting in my room at my desk. I know that year I received the Holy Ghost, but I don’t recall whether this moment happened before or after that time. Anyway… I was sitting at my desk looking at the corkboard hanging on the wall. I had pictures of friends and family, a few pictures of artists I loved listening to, you know, the typical pre-teen room display. Also on that corkboard was pinned a picture of a world map. It was there to remind me to pray for our missionaries. That day though, I just sat there, staring at the map. I felt something in me shift. I didn’t know the details; I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that I was going to be a missionary. It was my calling to work on the mission field.

Fast forward to college; since that time when I knew my calling, sometimes it was placed on the forefront. It was all I looked at. However, other times I placed it in the background, basically forgetting it existed. I didn’t know how it would all play out and it scared me (still does sometimes). Almost every time I heard a missionary speak, or someone speak about missions, I would cry. I would listen to their stories and plead with God, asking, “WHEN IS IT MY TURN?” Then I would look at my life and feel like it didn’t measure up to the calling of a missionary. Do I really have what it takes? Does my life show Jesus to those around me? Am I doing this right?

After five years, I graduated college with a degree in early childhood education. I earned my certificate to teach the littlest of littles. I had no idea that this would be my first mission field. You see, I had these ideas in my head, ideas that kept that missionary calling fire in my heart going. But I don’t know if those ideals really meet where I’m going. Then again, maybe they do. I listened to life stories of missionaries; I studied their lives, I heard them preach at church. They all came from foreign lands, places where they had to give up everything and move off; they preach the gospel on the streets, some hide, preaching quietly to a group hoping the government won’t catch them, they live life with different people groups, loving, serving, teaching, sacrificing, feeding the hungry. And while my heart longs to travel, I haven’t heard the call to go live in another country just yet. I have heard the call though, offering me a job at a local school; where within the last five years free-and-reduced lunch has went from 5% to 75%; a place where children come in, in defense mode, because they stayed up all night to their parents fighting; a place where children come in, nearly starved for food just as much as for attention; their needs unmet to the point of desperation. I did not see this as a mission field. It did not even click until I read a blog post about teachers being missionaries.

Because my ideals were so focused on living in a small hut in another country with barefoot children running around, I neglected to see the children in front of me. I didn’t hear their cries, their pleas to be fed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Whatever your calling may be, missions, preaching, teaching, mentoring, singing, translating, etc., please realize that the foundation of that ministry may look nothing like you think. You may be called to be a pastor, and right now all you are doing is scrubbing toilets. You may be called to lead the worship team and right now you are only singing in the shower. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay. I know it may seem like God took you on a detour and left you; I promise you He will never leave you, nor will He forsake you. This road that appears to be destitute, it’s part of your journey. A beautiful part. This is part of your calling. I would be willing to bet, if you are following God with all your heart, compare your calling to what you are doing now, they’re connected somehow.

If you still don’t know your calling, don’t lose hope. Live life as it is right now. Don’t rush it. Let God do His work; in His timing everything will fall into place.

Right now, small town USA is my mission field. In a broken world, every country needs missionaries.


More than Love

You know, there are some days that I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I had a good day at the job; I had time with Jesus; I went to the gym; I witnessed to someone; I did not rush around trying to get things done; I am all caught up on laundry and the house is cleaned; when someone made me angry, I calmly responded in a loving manner. I prayed before I acted.

We all have a list like that, don’t we? A list we check off of our conscious to make sure we are staying within our “good people” guidelines. The problem with this list is that even though all those things are good, when they are our checklist, we lose sight of our goal: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” We should be living every day, every moment with that goal in mind. When we forget that our goal is “Well done,” we forget what we are called to. We forget that our goodness is measured against God’s goodness. We forget to compare ourselves to God’s goodness, and we start comparing ourselves to others and our own past days of achievement.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. For perspective, I changed the word love to God, because we know Scripture says God is love.


1 John 4:8

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Ali’s version)

God is patient.

God is kind.

God does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

God does not boast of Himself excessively.

God is not puffed up.

God does not behave rudely.

God does not seek His own.

God thinks no evil.

God does not rejoice in iniquity.

God rejoices in truth.

God bears all things.

God believes all things.

God hopes all things.

God endures all things.

God never fails.

When I looked at this, I saw my sin. I saw how much I still need to grow. I then took my name, to see if I actually could check any of these things off a list:

Ali is patient… (eh mostly, when I’m not tired)

Ali is kind. (I mean, yeah, I think I have this one mostly)

Ali does not become jealous. (um, well, I like to think I’m not)

Ali does not boast of herself excessively. (YEAH! I never boast, I’m so good at not boasting… Wait, am I boasting now?)

I could continue, but I think you may understand where I am going. When I use this as a checklist, it reminds me how much I need God. This checklist keeps me humble, because Oh my word, do I ever need help in these areas. Sure, I don’t lie, I pay my tithes, I go to church, and I spend time with God. But does the fruit of my life really show it? You see, all of those good things that were on my checklist earlier: being healthy and exercising (taking care of God’s temple), going to church (not forsaking the gathering of saints), paying tithes, doing good at work, and etc. are all necessary to live good. However, if you put them on a conscious checklist as your “I’m fine list” they become just a checklist. You rush through devotions to check it off. You pay just the 10% of tithes God requires of us so your conscious will be okay. You go to the gym and run a mile to check it off the list. And somehow all this checking makes you miss the big picture. You miss the nourishment of God’s Spirit during devotions. You miss the blessing of giving till it hurts. You miss the rush of endorphins when you work out. You miss the fruit of all the work you’re putting in because the attitude behind what you’re doing is wrong! You can easily become like the Pharisees, lookin’ good on the outside, and completely dead on the inside. They lacked the Fruit of the Spirit a.k.a. the Fruit of God’s LOVE dwelling inside them, and because of this, Jesus was not pleased with them (John 15:8).

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.”

John 15:8

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

The next time you realize you’re rushing through your “good person” checklist, pull this one out. Compare yourself to God. When I compare my goodness to God, I am always put into check, He is good, without Him, I am nothing.


_______ is patient.

_______ is kind.

_______ does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

_______ does not boast of Himself excessively.

_______ is not puffed up.

_______ does not behave rudely.

_______ does not seek His own.

_______ thinks no evil.

_______ does not rejoice in iniquity.

_______ rejoices in truth.

_______ bears all things.

_______ believes all things.

_______ hopes all things.

_______ endures all things.

_______ never fails.



Oh Church! Where is Your Suffering?

1 Peter 4: 12-16

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, be happy; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Not long ago, I was sitting in a church service that made me uneasy at first. I knew that it was planned for a certain minister to be preaching. He has a great ministry from everything I have seen. However, knowing the topic of what he was to be preaching about worried me. When one comes to discuss Revelations and such with a group of people, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. A lot of people are depressed thinking about the “end of the world”. At that time, I really couldn’t take any more depressing thoughts. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to be excited for Jesus’s return?


I was worried. Yet, as he started and continued his sermon he did a great job expressing hope in Jesus’s return and how we as the Church, the Bride of Christ should approach the end time with a readiness to preach His Gospel, to be the Army of Christ. It was refreshing.

Then, he went on to reassure us that there are certain scriptures in the Bible that scholars believe point to our nation being the protection of Israel. If that is the case, he reasoned, we will not have to worry about being under the rule of the Antichrist. We will not be persecuted in this country because we are to protect the Children of God. The whole church cheered, I included. What a great thought! We will be the strong ones! We will somehow escape the Antichrist’s reach! We will not be deceived!

Lord, forgive me.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but REJOICE, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4 12-13

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I rejoiced with a church about the idea that I would not have to suffer during these end times. How pathetic is that? My brothers and sisters in Christ are being beaten, brutally mutilated, starved, deprived of the “glories” of this life, killed all over the world for Christ’s sake. And I’m over here, in this easy life I complain about, rejoicing in the fact I don’t have to suffer. No wonder God said that He would spew those lukewarm out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). I lack the Holiness of God and I still find this apathy disgusting. How can I claim to love Christ when I so willingly flee persecution? The persecution for preaching the gospel, the persecution for showing Christ’s love and grace to others.

Many would claim we are persecuted. “Oh, the church is being hit left and right in this country!” Really? Are you being beaten? Forced into slavery? Mutilated? Forced to watch your family die in front of you by the hands of the enemy?

Or are you just being told to sit down and shut up? You call that persecution? Really? That’s the cross you’re calling too heavy? You sit down just as the enemy has demanded. You have no strength to even stand up and say: “NO! I will not sit down and remain quiet! I will declare that Jesus is Lord!” You sit on the bench of life just watching as a world of people are walking by, mocking God, the One you claim to love. You sit with a burger and shake of contentment at a diner right outside of hell as the creations of God are marching straight in there and you are doing nothing!

How God’s Plan for Us can be Found in Our Childhood Dreams

Looking back to my childhood, I don’t really remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up a lot. At least not until upper elementary. But even when I wasn’t asked to, I was a dreamer. I had goals and plans for my life.

I spent the majority of my free time in early elementary playing F.B.I with my best friend. We would run through the fields with a bag of the “essentials” close at hand – walkie talkies, papers with the criminal’s information (scribbles), and of course snack – searching for the bad guy. We had close encounters with danger and had to hide a lot. We’d jump over logs and make narrow escapes from death. Those times were all in play, if you look at it from the adult perspective. Yet, from my perspective, I was practicing for the life I wanted to live. I wanted to fight evil and bring them to justice. I wanted to go on adventures.

As I grew older, playing F.B.I. became a thing of the past; maybe F.B.I. had become childish to me, or it could have been because we moved hours away from my best friend. Either way, I put it away as a childhood memory and moved on. As I entered middle school I had decided to become the CEO of a company, any company really. Now to be quite honest, I had no idea what that actually meant. All I knew is that being a CEO meant several things: you were in charge, you were important, and you could live comfortably. It all sounded good. I could rock a business skirt and jacket. I could tell people what to do. That was the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world helping people do the right thing, and make money doing it. About the same time, I felt God call me to become a missionary. The burden was laid on my heart. I had no idea how being a CEO and a missionary could work. However, I knew God gave me dreams for a reason, so He must have a plan. And boy, did He ever.

The beginning of high school came and a natural disaster changed my perspective. Those of you who know me can probably remember the years I spent planning to be a doctor. I lived and breathed all things medical. I read books about the anatomy and physiology of the body. I planned out the schooling it would take. The image of being a missionary made more sense now. Missionary and doctor, man I could really change the world! I could tell people about Jesus, and help them live healthier lives. I could do what physical part needed to be done, and God could do the Spiritual. I could travel the world, and go on adventures. It was like the pieces of the puzzle of my life were slowly starting to come together. Somewhere in these dreams, I had decided I was also going to live on a ranch, out in the country, surrounded my nature and the people I loved.

Fast forward to college, my freshman year. God had said “NO”. I was frustrated and in a deep depression. However, when I followed the plan God had for me I felt a peace that passed all of my understanding. God changed my mind. In a very short amount of time, I went from being in the Pre-Med program at a private university to being a part of the Early Childhood Education program at a public university. The time at the public university was a time of huge growth for me, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. The missionary thing was still in my mind. Even though it didn’t seem as awe-inspiring to some people, teaching little children the basics of human knowledge and loving them like Jesus made sense too. I could travel the world and love on who is considered “the least of these”. I could spread the gospel and help people better their lives. It’s not what my plans had been. But it made sense.

Now, college is over. I’ve graduated. I’m sitting here on the couch, windows opened, drinking a cup of hot tea. This week has had its ups and downs; trying to teach and love 19 six year olds every day for eight hours does make one tired. I’m thankful for my day of rest. I couldn’t make it through each week without relaxing. Sometimes the papers, lesson plans, intervention paperwork, RTI planning, and trying to find ways to engage all of my kiddos has to be set aside just to breathe. I never dreamed this would be my life. I didn’t think I would get a job teaching first grade at a phenomenal school in a small town in the U.S. right out of college. I didn’t think I would spend days loving on kiddos that were not my own with every ounce of my being and then go home in the evenings to cook dinner, do laundry, and clean the house. To be quite honest, if you would have asked me any time before now in my life if I would enjoy a life like this, I would have shrugged and said “Not likely. It sounds too mundane.” I have spent up to and beyond 60 hours of working each week just to keep from drowning in this new adventure. It is everything but mundane. As I look back at my childhood dreams and ambitions, I can see where God was leading me. I can see the root of my dreams and really, it does make sense.

You see, childhood dreams are important. The Bible says in Matthew 18:3: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter in the kingdom of heaven.” When we are young, our minds our pliable. They can be taught, molded, and changed with ease, compared to doing the same when we are older. All of my childhood dreams pointed to deeper longings God had set in my heart. I wanted to be an F.B.I. agent, but really, I wanted to go on an adventure. Oh, the adventure that my life has already taken me on. No, I’m not fighting physical crimes and bringing people to justice. But I am fighting for God’s army. I’m fighting a Spiritual war every day. I wanted to be a CEO, but really, I wanted to be important. And you know what? I am important. I’m important in the eyes of my God, my Savior, my friend, Jesus. He placed that dream in me so that I would always seek Him first. I wanted to be a doctor; I wanted to help people lead healthier lives; I wanted to fix their problems as much as I could. God has called each of us to reach the dying world, the sick, the hungry. That’s what He called His church to do! I wanted to live on a ranch. But really, I wanted to be at peace. Being out in the country, to me, brings peace. I can hear God; I can see His handiwork. The clutter goes away from my mind and I can see things clearly. That’s what I really wanted. That’s what God wanted for me. I wanted to be a missionary. To preach His gospel, the Good News of His saving grace. He placed that dream in my heart so that I may passionately live out His love every day. It doesn’t mean I will travel the world and see different cultures, even though I want to. But it does mean that every day, every moment, I am surrounded by people that need His love; I see the need in their lives for my Savior, and I can be the vessel He uses to show them His love.

Your childhood dreams weren’t silly. God uses what we can understand (the physical) to show us what we cannot always understand (the spiritual). Your dreams, hopes, and desires, all point to one thing. They all direct us to our deep need for our God. The longings we have openly display the holes in our lives that He is supposed to fill. Your childhood dreams point to God’s plan for your life. His plan for each of our lives can be said in this: to Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul, and to love your neighbor. If you do those two things, you will go on an adventure; you will help those in need; you will be at peace; you will you know you are important, not because of who you are, but because of WHOSE you are, because of Who lives in you.



John 21 – Hiding from Love

One of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible is John 21. I’ve always loved Simon Peter. Have you ever noticed the stark contrast between John and Peter? John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, how many times is this phrase used to describe him? And who uses this phrase? John. John knows that he is loved by Jesus. He is secure in this relationship; he has such faith. Then there is Peter… good ole Peter. Peter is fiercely passionate, and yet, with all that love for our God, He still denies Him. He failed, quite miserably. He had felt needed by Jesus; the love that he felt from God seemed to be deeply rooted in the idea that he could give something to Jesus. He was so consumed with being called of God that He forgot Who did the calling. He was always on his best behavior, trying to never let Jesus down. The feeling that Jesus couldn’t love him if He knew His dark, inner struggles, constantly nipping at his feet. Then his failure brings on that terrible realization that he never will be good enough. How hurt was Peter? Have you ever been there? Can you imagine, finally finding your calling, realizing the depth of that calling, and then coming to the understanding, that, despite that calling, the One you serve will never need you? The understanding that the One you love the most is not impressed with you can come as a low blow. Am I the only one that has ever gone through this? Don’t get me wrong, this One that Peter loved, our God, loves us, wants us, but He will never need us. He isn’t impressed with your efforts and that is not really the point of it all.

When I look at John 21, I see Peter right where I seem to find myself regularly. He had just failed, and thought there was no way he could receive the love God was so richly giving to him. He goes back to what he knows works for him. He goes back to the place where he is not noticed. Nothing he does in fishing is a big deal, and even if it was, it wouldn’t matter because he’s good at this. This was his life profession before Jesus came along. He didn’t need anyone else. He could hide from the shame and guilt. I’m sure he knew, like the rest of us, that he desperately needed Jesus. Jesus was the only One who could fix the inner struggles Peter was dealing with. Yet, Peter couldn’t bring himself to go looking for Jesus, he was too ashamed. Surely their relationship couldn’t be the same after all Peter had done.

But then Jesus shows up… (I always love this part of the story.) Jesus came looking for Peter, He knew that was exactly what he needed.

Jesus shows up and the first thing He does is prove to Peter that his life can never be the same. Even fishing, his old pastime, could no longer be done without Jesus. Peter cannot catch a thing until Jesus gives it. Then after feeding Peter’s hungry soul, Jesus and Peter went for a walk, and Jesus confronted those dark inner struggles with love. Now remember, Peter had denied Jesus three times. And now, three times, Jesus asks Peter “Do you love me?” Some of you may know, if you look at the Greek language, the word for love is different in the questions and responses:

John 21:15-17 KJV

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

For the sake of understanding, I’m going to rewrite this in Ali’s version:

“So when they were done eating, Jesus asked Peter, Peter do you love me, truly love me, even more than the blessings I have given you? Peter replied Yes Lord, you know I like you, and you’re my dear friend. Jesus said feed my lambs. He asked Peter a second time, Peter do you love me, truly love me? Peter replied Yes Lord, you know I like you, and you’re my dear friend. Jesus said, Feed my sheep. He asked Peter a third time, Peter do you like me? Peter, obviously upset said, Lord you know everything, and you know I like you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.”

I can feel Peter’s frustration here. All the hurt… and to add to the whole situation, the disciple whom Jesus loved was right there. I can just see Peter’s thoughts: Come on Lord, don’t you know what I’ve done? I obviously don’t love you. I can’t. I’m not even capable of that. I failed you. Don’t you know that?  Why me? Why now, don’t you know I’m sorry? So Sorry.Why don’t you talk to John like this? Everyone knows he loves you. I can never love you like he does. Peter cannot even bring himself to say that he loves the Lord, not in the agape sense that Jesus is asking. He knows he isn’t worthy. I mean, how hypocritical would it feel to tell someone you love them enough to sacrifice everything for them when not so long before you couldn’t even claim their friendship because of your pride, your fear?

Peter is so busy drowning in his guilt and shame that he doesn’t notice what Jesus is doing. Did you notice how Jesus meets Peter where he is? Jesus meets Peter exactly where he is, to the point of changing the words He used. When Peter can’t bring himself to go looking for help, Jesus goes looking for him.

How many times does Jesus do this for you and for me? How many times does He try to walk beside you, to draw you closer? In those times, do you get frustrated? Are you so deep in your shame and guilt that you cannot feel the love and forgiveness that He is trying to give you? Your sins are not too big for God. Don’t run away from Him.