Looking Forward to Giving Up

I am in a season of change. It started with my decision to walk with Jesus to Jerusalem during Lent. Well, actually, it started a bit farther back than that. In fact, it probably started just under a year ago.

But as I am prone to do, I continued my walk, my wandering through the dry, dusty desert of my life instead of resting in the lushness that Jesus offered to cultivate through some heart-wrenching circumstances. In effect, I ignored his invitation to sip a cup of cold water and to tend the garden of my broken soul. Instead, I pushed onward mostly in my own strength though I talked a good game of leaning on Jesus.

And I was leaning on him. I was casting my cares on him. I was laying my burdens down at his feet, but I wasn’t doing any of this consistently. And, with some things, I wasn’t doing it at all.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with the idea of surrendering all of me to Jesus. I come by this fiercely independent, I-don’t-need-any-help streak honestly through my blue-collar, Irish-protestant roots. However, it’s not necessarily a positive attribute when applied to my relationship with Jesus. You see, what I tend to do is hand over almost all of my struggles while keeping my fingers tightly wrapped around at least one thing with a child-like grip that clearly says, This is mine and you can’t have it.

no, you can't have it. it's mine.

no, you can’t have it. it’s mine.

In other words, I practice obedience when it’s convenient or comfortable for me. Maybe you’ve done this, too.

But as I mentioned yesterday, Jesus is good, but he is not safe. And if you spend any time at all with him, it becomes dangerous. Especially if you are not all in because that’s what he wants. He wants all of me and he will use the parts of me he has access to do draw me ever closer, even if it means he has to pursue me through the dry, dusty desert of my life.

Which he did. And then he gave me another nudge closer to him, closer to that refreshing drink of cold water. And once again he used the messy circumstances of my life and my marriage. And this time, he had my attention and that cup of water in his hands looked far more inviting than the arid clay upon which I stood with my parched throat and broken heart and wrecked faith.

By now it was the day before Thanksgiving and I realized that I was living my life too small and too scared. As Advent approached, Jesus invited me to reflect on getting ready for his entry into this world, into my world. We started spending more time together, Jesus and I, because I still held two handfuls of the broken shards of my heart and had no idea how to fit them together into anything functional let alone abundant.

The more time I spent with him, the more of a gravitational pull he began to have on me. New Year’s came and went and I realized that I had the gift of New Year’s Day every day in Jesus. He makes all things new – my relationships, my heart, my marriage, my life. He makes the desert into an oasis and he reshapes the way the broken shards fit together so that they create something dazzling, something more.

the invitation of the oasis beckons us.

the invitation of the oasis beckons us.

And then, Ash Wednesday, and memories of the small group Bible study in which I’d participated in Boston.

The idea of extravagant love and walking with Jesus to Jerusalem.

That journey has changed everything for me. It has changed me, and the way I look at the world and the way I see my girls and how I envision my marriage. Because spending time with Jesus is dangerous. He will take everything you give him and he will transform it. He will make it greater than you can imagine.

And that is where I am. I have been living my life too small and too scared, and that is not the abundant life that Jesus offers. But that abundant life comes with Jesus and only with Jesus. In other words, I cannot live my life hiding in a locked upper room afraid that I will be associated with Jesus, ostracized because of Jesus, abandoned because of Jesus. Nor can I live my life afraid to let him have complete control of my messy, broken life.

He created me in his image. He knew me before time began and formed me in my mother’s womb. He has a new name for me that only he knows written on a white stone.

Really, he knows me better than I know myself. And I am looking forward to hearing what he knows about my dreams and my heart’s desires over the next 30 days. I am looking forward to him taking the remaining broken shards to which I have clung, which have cut my flesh because I refused to release them, and seeing what dazzling creation he gives me in return.

I am looking forward to finally giving up trying to do it on my own.

I would love it if you joined me on this journey, this waiting in Jerusalem to meet Jesus before he ascends to the Father. I would love to encourage you and to hear your joys and your sorrows and watch as you live out your life transformed by the journey laid before us.

A Dangerous Liaison

Spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing. Maybe I’ve always known this, but I think that this particular truth is challenging me in new and different ways. Mind you, I’ve gone through this before.

Several years back I was in an incredible small group Bible study at Park Street Church in Boston; I loved these people like family because after choosing truth and vulnerability over our ever-present facades, we knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, flaws and fragile hearts. Part of what got us to this point was our study of the Gospel of John.

We reached the story about the woman who poured out an alabaster jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet just a week before Ash Wednesday. That story amazes me because it exemplifies such an extravagant love for Jesus. I remember being captivated by the idea of extravagant love and, looking toward Ash Wednesday and Lent, I could not stop myself from challenging our group to do likewise. I challenged each of us to commit to some expression of extravagant love for Jesus until Easter.

For me, that translated into rising an hour earlier each morning to pray. Bleary-eyed and yawning, I stumbled through my tiny one-bedroom apartment to retrieve my first cup of coffee in the pre-dawn darkness. Not even my cat was up, though the beginnings of the morning rush hour were beginning to trickle through the streets beneath my windows.

my cat holding my place for my early morning time with Jesus

Peekay holding my spot on the lumpy blue futon where I spent my early mornings with Jesus

There I’d sit on my worn lumpy blue futon, sipping coffee and uttering mostly unintelligible prayers, awkwardly and self-consciously at first, but eventually, intimate and deeply heartfelt. As Lent wore on, I remained bleary-eyed and yawning, but I also became fiercely protective of this morning extravagance. Easter came and went and even so, I never missed a morning with Jesus; I continued to rise early and meet him in our garden of prayer. And as I met with him, my attitude, my passions, my thoughts, my choices began to change.

Spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing.

The relationship with the married-but-separated man I’d been in for too long finally ended though not easily for either of us. Because although so much about me was changing through my early morning moments with Jesus, my heart’s desire had not. Not yet. It was still bent on me and what I wanted.

But, spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing.

After weeks of begging God to change my heart and being intimately comfortable enough with my Creator to wrestle with him and to yell at him and to push back at his plans for my life and my heart’s well-being it came down to one thing: me.

It came down to me. It came down to my choosing to trust him with everything, including my heart and its desires. It came down to my choosing to want to give up the relationship that was not intended for me and to do so willingly. It came down to my extravagant love for Jesus.

It came down to me laying all of my messy life at his feet and choosing Jesus over the world and it did not come without anger, tears, rage, wracking sobs, feelings that I knew better than God and, finally, real, genuine submission.

Two days later, just two days, I met the man I would marry. That was no coincidence; that was a God thing.

Because like I said, spending time with Jesus is a dangerous thing. As C.S. Lewis put it in the conversation between Lucy and the Beavers in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jesus isn’t safe, but he is good.

I am relearning this truth. It started when I chose to journey to Jerusalem with Jesus this Lent. One cannot spend that much time in the presence of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and not come away changed.

Indeed, he is changing me. Again.

To find out what that change involves, you’ll have to come back and walk with me a little further on the journey from Galilee back to Jerusalem. I’d love to share it with you, if you’re willing to walk a little longer on this path with me. Oh, and while we’re walking, why don’t you share a little bit of your heart and your vision with me, because I’d love the opportunity to encourage you.

Get Ready for Your Great Adventure

For the past month and a half I have been walking with Jesus to Jerusalem and having met him by the Sea of Galilee, I am now heading back to Jerusalem with his disciples to wait for him there. As we’ve learned since last Sunday’s resurrection celebration, there is little information about what took place during the 40 days in between when Jesus left the tomb and when he ascended to his Father.

But, clearly the disciples had things that needed their attention, at least with day-to-day necessities. And, likely they needed to prepare for the great adventure to which Jesus had alluded when he talked about them carrying the good news about him to the ends of the earth. Who better for this mission than his original disciples? They have walked with him and learned from him, laughed with him and lived with him.

They know all about him, and they know him, deeply, intimately. And that matters quite a bit, especially if you’re going to share who he is with people who don’t know him, with people who have never even heard of him. Sharing your story about Jesus requires relationship, not only to the people to whom you want to share Jesus, but with Jesus himself.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget that.

It’s not good enough that I walked to Jerusalem with Jesus; I need to spend time with him still. Every day. And that is what these 40 days are all about for me, to continue my journey with him. Not just to Jerusalem, but to the ends of the earth. And I believe I can do that even if I never set foot out of the state in which I live.

My journey with him depends on spending time with him, in prayer, in reading about him in his Word and in worshipping him.

That’s why, this afternoon, I am choosing to make my nightly dinner-making process an act of worship. Worship, like love is an action word, and it is also a choice. I can choose to love. I can choose to worship. I can choose to glorify God and serve Jesus as well as serve my family as I cook dinner tonight.

even boiling water can be an act of worship. if I choose to make it so.

even boiling water can be an act of worship. if I choose to make it so.

You see, the late part of the day for me, as a Stay-at-Home-Mama, can sometimes be my biggest challenge. By this point, I am weary. I am tired of meeting the needs of others. And too often I come to the end of the day and the dinner-making process with a chip on my shoulder and bitterness ready to burst from my sharp tongue.

And you know what? I’m going to write these words from my heart. I’m going to share this glimpse into my life and into my day and tell you about how I am choosing to worship Jesus and then do you know what’s going to happen?

The Enemy is going to let me know how much he dislikes this idea. He’s going to prowl around my kitchen, nipping at my Achilles’ heel and he’s going to push the little things that can frustrate me so easily at the end of the day. Because that’s what he does when we draw near to Jesus or when we choose to make that relationship a central part of who we are and what we do. When we choose to put Jesus in the center of our daily life as well as in the center of our biggest dreams.

But I’ve made my advanced decision. I choose to focus on Jesus and to keep my eyes on him in the little things, like making dinner. Because I believe what he said, if one can be faithful in small things, one can be faithful in bigger things. And my goal is to be faithful with bigger things, with greater things: big goals and big dreams that will help change the world and bring glory to God in the process.

That’s what these 40 days are all about for me. This time is about learning to be faithful in small things, like making dinner, like folding laundry, like writing notes to friends and like being present in the moments with my girls.

being in the moment with my girls serves them and serves Jesus

being in the moment with my girls serves them and serves Jesus

This is about my choice, my opportunity to make these small things part of an active and real act of worship, because, to be honest, I’ve not done well with that in the past. And I believe that there are some incredible things rising on my horizon and I want to be ready for them.

I want to be faithful. And I am thankful that I still have 32 days to focus on getting ready for my amazing God-sized adventure by tending the God-given gifts I have been given.

So, what about you? What are you going to focus on for the next 32 days? If you need a push toward the dream that is beckoning you, consider joining Jon Acuff in his 30 Days of Hustle for the month of May. It’s a grand adventure and a great opportunity to practice the little things and prepare for the big things. I hope I see you on the Adventure. {the Jon Acuff link will only be active on his site for two days. So, what are you waiting for? Click the link now!}

Your Dream Requires One Step

And so we are a week into the 40 days following Jesus’ resurrection. There is little account in scripture at this point about what the disciples did or what Jesus did. All we know is that there are 32 days from this moment until the Ascension of Jesus to the Father from the Mount of Olives.

What will you do with those 32 days?

Do you ever wonder what the disciples did during that time?

All we know for sure is that Jesus appeared to them from time to time. We know that part of that took place by the Sea of Galilee and part of that took place on a mountain that Jesus appointed for meeting with the disciples in Galilee. There is also record that Jesus eventually told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit that would come to them upon his final Ascension.

So what about all of the in between?

What about your in between? How will you spend the next 32 days of your in between?

Right now, my in between looks a little like this:

  • pray a familiar dear Jesus prayer throughout the day:

Dear Jesus, thank you so much for being God. You are awesome, bigger than I can imagine ,more wonderful than I can express. Thank you for saving me by your precious blood. I belong to you. You are in charge. Right now I choose you. Speak to me as I train my mind to think you.

I choose right now to praise you and give you thanks. {begin praises and thanksgiving}

  • write, because it is a part of the gift that God has given to me and somehow part of the dream, too;
  • panic, because I do not feel good enough {think Moses who begged God to send someone else, think Sari who laughed at the idea of having a baby in her old age};
  • write, because I trust God;
  • freak out because I feel like Peter and I need to go fishing because that is the most obvious thing to do because it is familiar and comforting, which for me is to pretty much just do the regular day-to-day things of being a Stay-at-Home-Mama;
  • cry out to Jesus, help me, am I doing this right;
  • decide to quit, to throw in the towel, to just give up, to let the enemy win;
  • come to my senses and fight a little harder;
  • meet Jesus in the Mount of Olives and reflect on who he is and what he has done and what he promises me and wait for the Holy Spirit.

Some variation of this plays out most days in my heart and my overwhelmed mind that wants to live out my life and my dream to the glory of God but then wonders if I am capable of doing that. This is pretty much what has always drawn me to Peter. I love his heart and I love his transparent love for Jesus. And, oh, how I love that he screws it up sometimes. But, oh, how he loves and trusts and steps out of the boat so often.

 

trusting Jesus can be difficult, but it is always worth it

trusting Jesus can be difficult, but it is always worth it

That’s what these 32 days are all about: loving and trusting and stepping out of the boat. Your dream is about taking one step, a step of faith.

Do you love me?

That’s what Jesus asked Peter as they walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. And Peter’s love was obvious. He was willing to follow Jesus wherever they would go. This time, he was ready to step out of the boat and keep his eyes on Jesus and ignore the storm.

Do you love me?

That’s all Jesus really wants to know of us, too. Are we willing to follow him wherever he leads? Are we willing to step out of the boat and to trust him? Really trust him?

We have 32 days left in this in between adventure.

How are you going to spend your 32 days?

Me? I am planning to spend those days with Jesus. To walk with him. To talk with him. To trust him. To follow him wherever it is that he leads me. I am planning to cast aside doubt and insecurity and walk on water with my eyes on Jesus.

He has cast a vision for me and I will not discern it if I am not in close relationship with him. I will not discern it if I am not willing to follow him and to heed his invitation: to step out of the boat, to step out in faith. I will not discern it if I am not willing to let him be in control.

How easy it can be to bypass that relationship because of my insecurities, my busyness, my doubt, my uncertainty and instead to flounder in the waves because all I see is the storm. Believe me, the storms will rage and the waves will swell and the enemy will taunt and take his best shots at you. But the resurrected Christ has already shown that he can calm the storms and defeat the enemy.

What more do you need to follow your dream than Jesus?

There he stands, just like he did for Peter, beckoning, inviting, waiting.

How long are you willing to keep him waiting?

We have 32 days, you and I, and I’d love to spend those days walking with you back to Jerusalem. I’d love to hear about your dream, your fears, your hopes and how you want these 32 days to go. Please leave your thoughts in the comments and let’s take this journey back to Jerusalem together, okay?

This Is about You, Not Them

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.  John 21:20-25

Peter and Jesus continue walking along the shore. Peter has answered Jesus’ question three times and he has been reinstated as Peter, the Rock, the one on whom Jesus will build his church. The previous wrongs have been righted and Peter can enjoy a peaceful stroll with his resurrected Lord. Except that this is Peter, impetuous Peter, passionate Peter, the disciple who is almost always the first to act, to speak and to respond.

After Jesus predicts Peter’s crucifixion, Peter immediately turns around, looks at John and asks Jesus, What about him, Lord?

Without a doubt, Peter loves the Lord. Without a doubt, Peter will follow the path Jesus set for him before time began because now he is ready to go where Jesus leads. Without a doubt, Peter is absolutely human and perhaps still at least a little competitive when it comes to his fellow disciples {think discussions of which of them was the best or debates about who would sit at the right and left hands of Jesus}.

Without a doubt, this is yet another reason why I tend to identify with Peter throughout his walk with Jesus. Because he is just so real, so incredibly transparent. Because he’s just, well, he’s just so — like me. Maybe he’s a little like you, too.

only you can live out your dream and your life for God's glory. so, will you?

only you can live out your dream and your life for God’s glory.
so, will you?

Perhaps you have found yourself in a pretty good place. You know, where your dream is coming together, your life seems to be working smoothly {think no surprises or unexpected expenses}, your relationship with Jesus is solid and you are feeling like all is well. And then, you start the comparisons game. You start looking around at friends or co-workers or people you don’t even like and you begin measuring your life against theirs.

Maybe you’ve earned a raise or a promotion at work and it’s an answer to prayer. But you learn that the guy in the next office is also meeting with the boss and immediately, you wonder, What about him? Is he going to make the same money as me? Is he going to have the same title as me?

Or maybe you’re working on your dream and you’re excited. You’ve finally determined your purpose and your passion and you are ready to dive in and follow it through no matter what and then you hit your first obstacle. Even so, you’re ready to pay your dues; this is what you’ve always wanted to do. But then a friend or a family member tells you about their new opportunity or the book they’re writing under contract or the blog they started that has 500+ followers already, and immediately, you wonder, What about her? Is she going to have to struggle? Is she going to have to pay her dues?

There we are, standing beside Jesus with a clear vision of where we’re going and feeling confident because our relationship with him is strong. But, like Peter, instead of focusing on where we are, instead of being in the moment with Jesus, we catch a glimpse of someone else out of the corner of our eye. Jesus loves him, too. Does Jesus love him more than me? Is he more blessed than me? Will she do bigger things than me?

What about him, Lord?

We want to know. We feel like we have to know. Somehow, we have tied who we are, what we’re doing, where we’re going to other people instead of to Jesus. Even though we’re standing right next to Jesus. Even though he is the source of information and wisdom we’ll need for the journey. Even though he is the Creator of our dream and the Giver of our gifts, we look past him and look to the people around us.

We’re afraid that someone else is going to get something that we’re not. We’re afraid that someone else is going to get somewhere before us. We’re worried about the other guy. Too many times we are too worried about the other guy: What about him, Lord?

But just like he does with Peter, Jesus sets us straight, what happens with him is none of your business. As for you, follow me.

That’s it. That’s all we need to do, follow Jesus. Take the path he sets for us, take the dream he gives to us, take the life he’s ransomed for us and live it in a manner worthy of his sacrifice. That in itself is a tall enough order to preclude and override any concerns about anyone else’s life.

Jesus has given each of us a unique dream, a unique purpose and a unique part in the greater story; something that only we can accomplish.

So, are you ready to play your part? Are you ready to claim your dream and make it happen for the glory of Jesus? What will you do for God’s kingdom that nobody else will do? Let’s stroll a little longer along the shore and you can tell me what you’re up to. Share your story in the comments and we can help keep each other accountable.

The Heart of Friendship

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Friend

{Go} 

I’m getting ready to crawl under my covers and snuggle down with some reading. It’s later than I’d planned to get into bed already, and I’m ready. So ready for the warmth, the familiarity, the sleepy dreams.

And that’s when my cell phone rings. At first I groan, but when I pick it up and look at the caller ID, I answer it without a second thought.

Michael is gone. I think he’s run away.

My best friend’s voice betrays all the stress and fear and shakiness that such a moment holds and I am already planning what I need to grab before I can get in the car and drive the 45 minutes to her house, before she can even speak the words her heart hasn’t formed yet.

Do you want me to come over?

My question is rhetorical really, because I’m coming over no matter what she says. I know her heart; I don’t need to hear her words.

A quick kiss for my husband and I am driving through the dark of night, praying and holding my friend’s heart in mine.

time and distance don't matter in friendship

time and distance don’t matter in friendship

I cannot imagine her pain, her fear, her thoughts.

But I know her tears. And I know her heart. 

And I will hold it in mine for as long as she needs. As she cries. As she worries. As she prays.

I will hold her hand in mine. I will make her tea from her cupboard. I will sit beside her.

I will hold her heart in mine and protect it as best I can.

Because she is my friend.

She is a part of me.

And for that I give thanks, even as we wait and pray. Until he comes home at last in the wee hours and I can release her hand from mine.

But her heart. Her heart I will keep.

Because she is a part of me.

Are You Ready to Say Yes?

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”  John 21:15-18

Can you imagine what Peter must have been thinking during this confrontation with Jesus? We get one small glimpse of his heart from John’s gospel, that he was hurt because Jesus asked him the same question three times. But I’m guessing that the depth of emotion is more than we can fully understand. Here he is sitting across from Jesus eating a breakfast that Jesus cooked for him. But this is definitely a confrontation between the Lord and Simon Peter.

Was it hard for him to swallow each bite? Was his mouth dry? Was he nervous? Did he find it difficult to make eye contact? Did he have any idea what was coming?

Have you ever screwed up in a relationship? Done something or said something stupid that ended up hurting your best friend or maybe your spouse? Do you remember what it was like the next time you saw that person face to face? The physical reaction of your body, the racing of your mind because maybe you were thinking you might be able to lessen the hurt or guilt by justifying or rationalizing your words or your actions.

This is only the third time that Peter has seen Jesus since Jesus was resurrected. The first time was in a group of other disciples in a locked room. We don’t know about the second time. But I’m guessing that this third time is the first time that Jesus and Peter are sitting together like they did before Jesus died. What an incredibly powerful and probably overwhelming moment, facing his friend, his Lord, that he betrayed.

I cannot begin to imagine what went through Peter’s mind, his soul, or his heart as he looked into the eyes of Jesus as Jesus asked him, Do you love me? All I know is that if I were Peter, I would find it difficult to look him in the eye, but at the same time I’d want to throw my arms around his neck and tell him how much I love him.

Instead, Peter endures his Lord asking him the same simple question three times. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Peter denied Jesus three times on the night Jesus was arrested and here he is given the opportunity to profess his love for Jesus three times as they walk the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As is Jesus’ way, he and Peter are removed from the group. It is just the two of them for this reinstatement, this re-affirmation of love.

Jesus showed Peter this same compassion during Peter’s walk on the Sea of Galilee when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink in the raging waves. Without a word and without any hesitation, Jesus reached out and steadied Peter on the water’s surface, and then, before he helped Peter back into the boat, Jesus rebuked him, You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?

Of course, compassion aside, it’s pretty clear that this moment is a turning point for Peter. Jesus does not call him by the name Peter during this confrontation; he calls him Simon. Peter is not the Rock upon which Jesus will build the church. Not right now. Right now, Peter is Simon, son of John, a fisherman who got scared and made choices based on his fear not on his faith.

confronted in my Galilee

When confronted in my Galilee I will say, Yes. What will you say?

So, here, on this familiar sandy shore where Simon Peter spent so much of his life, Jesus gives him the opportunity to choose differently. Jesus gives him the opportunity to become the Rock again, to become Peter. Jesus does everything in his power to set Peter up for success if Peter is willing to choose it. Because ultimately, it is Peter’s choice.

Ultimately, it is our choice, isn’t it?

And ultimately, like Peter, we all must be confronted by the Savior at some point. We must be given the opportunity to choose differently, to choose based on faith, not on fear. To choose to follow him even after we have denied him.

Jesus can do everything in his power to set us up for success, but it’s up to us to accept the opportunity, to claim it, to take it and say, yes, I will be the Rock upon which you can build your church. I will be the man, the woman, the faithful follower upon whom you can depend to spread your Good News, to reflect your grace and mercy, to live out a life worthy of the gospel of you, my Savior and my King.

Yes, I will do my part to build your Kingdom with my dream. This dream that you have given to me and that you are setting up for my success. And I will not be afraid, but instead, I will trust you. I will not deny you, I will defend you. I will stand firm beside you. I will.

But first, he asks me one seemingly simple question, Do you love me?

The first time he asks the question, I, like Peter, respond without a beat, Yes, you know I do.

Because he does, doesn’t he? He’s God, after all. Surely he knows that I love him, but I’ll tell him any way.

But then, he asks us again, Do you love me?

And again, I respond without a pause, Yes, you know I do.

Yet still, this is not enough? He asks again? A third time?

This time, his words pierce my heart, and I know this isn’t about him or what he knows, it’s about me and what I believe. I look at him, I look into his gentle, soul-searching eyes and tell him, Lord, you know everything. You know I love you. 

And now, I know, too. I know what it means to follow you. I know what it’s going to take. I know that this will not be easy, but it will be worth it. And this time, this time I choose faith. I choose to accept the dream you have given to me and to follow it no matter the risk or the fear.

I choose you, Jesus. I choose to follow you and to take on whatever that brings, no matter how afraid I may be or how much doubt I may face.

So, what about you? Have you been confronted by Jesus in your Galilee? Has he asked something of you that you wondered whether you could give? Know that he is bigger than any doubt or fear you face. If he’s asking you if you are willing, risk telling him yes and then watch what happens. And, please, share your fears, your confrontation and your risks in the comments. Let’s take this journey together.