In the spirit of hearing from a variety of voices, this week's email is written by SPV member Barbara Kauffman.
Hello SPV Family!
Have you ever noticed how a certain word or setting can trigger a bad memory? Even after the event is over and seemingly resolved? Or am I the only one?
For example, a number of years ago there was a misunderstanding about a dinner that featured a Greek salad. As a result, I was not only blamed for something that wasn't exactly my doing but also viciously attacked by someone I thought was a close friend. To this day, the phrase "Greek salad" rekindles all those old feelings, and I have to stop and remind myself it has no relevance now.
I think most of us could share similar stories. Whether it was something as insignificant as a dinner or a Big Important Event that changed your life forever, somehow the trauma stays with us, and it doesn't take much to trigger remembrance of that time. These triggers can follow us throughout our lives. They affect how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we relate to God.
John's gospel relates one such event in the life of Simon Peter, and the setting was a charcoal fire. Jesus had been arrested and taken to the palace of the high priest, but Peter and another disciple, likely John himself, had followed. John 18:18 tells us that they were in the courtyard, and the guards and servants had built a "fire of coals" or a charcoal fire to warm themselves, and Peter joined them. But when some began to recognize him, fear got the best of him, and he denied Jesus not once, but three times.
He was supposed to be God's man of faith and power, the rock on which Jesus would build His church. He had expected to be the one who stood by Jesus even if everyone else deserted Him, but he fell short. He was not who he thought he was.
Now you won’t find this in the NIV version, but in both the Amplified and New American Standard (which I’m told are consistent with the original text) John 21:9 states that when John and the others arrived, they saw a “fire of coals” – Peter’s ground zero, if you will. And it was here that Jesus reaffirmed the call on Peter’s life by asking him to “feed my sheep.”
I know many of us have our own “ground zero.” Most of us even know exactly where it is. Maybe something happened when you were very little. Maybe the person you thought you were going to spend your life with abandoned you. Or maybe, like Peter, you failed at something and are disappointed in yourself.
I pray that Jesus will allow you to revisit that pivotal event but to see it through His eyes. You are more than your mistakes, and whatever someone else thinks of you is colored by his or her own flawed perception. When we see ourselves through His eyes, it changes everything.
Oh – and the unfortunate incident with the Greek salad – I've decided to look at it as the event that allowed me to share this insight from the book of John. I don’t think it will bother me much anymore.