“After this many of [Jesus’] disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? YOU have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-69
Simon Peter probably had a better perspective than most people. He knew what his life was like “Before Christ.” As brash as he was, I get the feeling that Peter already had some pretty strong negative opinions about the religious elitists of his day.
Sure, he was a devout Jew. He was a believer in Yahweh and His promises of a future Messiah to come and to save. But he was also a fisherman.
Dirty. Smelly. Grungy. Probably a wash-out from the rabbinical school at an early age. Peter already knew ‘oppression’ – both from Rome and from those who claimed they held the keys to eternal life.
But along his lonely journey, maybe feeling like a guppy in a sea of piranhas, Peter met, believed, and eventually came to ‘know’ Jesus the Christ!
Jesus’ words were easy. There was grace in his every movement. Peter didn’t understand everything Jesus said and did, but he still ‘knew.’ In the deepest level of his soul, he finally ‘knew’ someone who was truly safe.
I love Peter’s simple yet profound statement: “To whom shall we go?”
Can you hear what he’s saying through what he’s saying?
“Your words don’t crush me, Jesus. You make me feel alive!”
“Your laughter and easy-going spirit remind me what it is like to be young again!”
“You bring me hope that I can make it to the end of this life realize I’ve only reached the starting line!”
Mary Oliver wrote, “The heart has many dungeons. Bring the light. Bring the light.”
Just as Jesus was bringing the light to Peter’s neglected heart and soul, He does the very same thing today! To me. To you. To “we”.
The world promises us peace through the tireless acquisition of possessions. I say “Bring the light, Jesus.”
The world feeds our hunger for friendship by showering us with reality TV characters who claim to be ‘just like us.’ Yet we are left all alone. I say “Bring the light, Jesus.”
Even the church claims fulfillment in “doing” religion. But so many of us are let down and left languishing for lack of an invitation to simply “be with” and “rest in” and “know” Jesus as the lover of our souls.
Healthy living flows from a place of soul care, which means taking the time to recognize, just as Peter did, that Jesus is inviting you and me into a deeper trust each and every day.
In his book, Embracing Soul Care, Steve Smith quotes Thomas Moore: “When the soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence and loss of meaning.”
I’ve been down that road. Thomas Moore is right on target. There was a season in my life when my soul was shriveling like a brutally-carved pumpkin one week after Halloween. Even though I was involved in full-time church ministry, Jesus was not the center of my heart. I was not inviting Jesus into the places of brokenness and fear, regret and shame. I was wounded and didn’t know the first thing about the care of my soul.
These days I am learning to live in a much slower rhythm. It’s a rhythm of “awareness” and “attentiveness” of the places and faces where I feel safe. Safety is an essential element of healing. It’s like oxygen. You don’t see it. You don’t think about it. But you sure know when there is a lack of it!
Peter knew safety! Jesus provided everything he could ever need! His knowledge started as belief. And his belief began with an invitation. I hope and pray that you will hear Jesus’ invitation to you today.
Allow him into the deepest places of your heart.
Pray this simple prayer, “Bring the light, Jesus, bring the light.”
I know Jesus will meet you there!