S3:E22 – Nicole Kelley, “Peter and His Personal Record Swim Time”


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Peter and His Person Record Swim Time

by Nicole Kelley | One Thousand Words


Nicole Kelley


I like to describe Nicole’s music as a mix between Rich Mullins and Lori McKenna. There’s also definitely a bit of Sara Groves in there.

Nicole is married to Scott and they have four kids that they, and I quote, “not only love to pieces, but also really really like!” And, burglars beware, they’re house is guarded by 9 whole majestical furious pounds of Pom-Chi named Petey.

Nicole’s newly released album “Canyon Wide” is a beautiful collection of original songs that explore the faithfulness of Jesus across life’s many failures, griefs, and joys. Nicole’s thoughtful, carefully crafted lyrics are delivered in a most human and disarming way. Through these songs, Nicole proves to be both a wise mentor and a good friend.

Instagram: @nicolekelleymusic

Find Nicole’s Music on iTunes and Spotify

To order a physical copy, email her: info@nicolekelleymusic

Peter and His Personal Record Swim Time

by Nicole Kelley

I feel like there are a lot of stories in the Bible that are often repeated, easily preached. We all have our favorites. What are some of yours? We hear about Daniel in the lions’ den or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. We see Jesus healing the leper, raising Lazarus, talking with Nicodemus about being born again. We speak of Paul on his road to Damascus…the list goes on.

And then there are the exploits of our 100% all-in apostle Peter. We see him fishing; we see him chopping off a guy’s ear with his sword. We hear him speaking in Acts, bravely testifying of the Word he has seen, the one he says is the only name under heaven by which we must be saved. Brave words in the polytheistic culture of the Romans, as well as in the “how-can-Jesus-be-God-when-Israel-only-has-one-God” culture. Those words are equally brave today.

It’s interesting to me that these aren’t really the stories that Peter is most known for, am I right? It seems like Peter is most famous for two things: almost sinking while walking on the water (let’s be honest; isn’t that the part we usually talk about?), and denying Jesus three times.

I wonder if one reason we preach and talk so much about Peter’s denial of Jesus is that it seems like the one thing about Peter that we can best relate to. We can find ourselves in his story so easily because, well…we see how our behavior continually falls short of what someone like Jesus would deserve, if we could serve him the way he deserves to be served. Wait. Or is it, “if we could serve Him the way we think he wants us to serve him.” There is a difference. One that keeps us continually disappointed not just in our behavior, but in ourselves. And because we are disappointed in ourselves, that must mean that He is too.

What does Jesus really want, anyway? Whatever it is, we “know” we don’t have it to give, and yet it feels somehow he expects it. But how does Jesus feel?

Let’s fast forward to the scene in John 21, which is without a doubt my favorite scene in the entire Bible. It’s the one where Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, Zebedee’s sons and two other disciples were together at the Sea of Tiberius.

Peter decides he’s going fishing. The others say, “We’re coming with you.” They fish all night and catch nothing. This is the story of their lives it seems, but I suppose their good fishing trips weren’t particularly noteworthy, so why write them down in the Bible, right? Let’s continue…

When daybreak comes, Jesus is standing on the shore, but the disciples don’t know it is Jesus. He calls to them, “Children, have you no fish?” They say no. He tells them to cast to the right side of the boat and they will find some. So they do, and they can’t haul the nets in because of the large number of fish.

And so John…the one Jesus loved…says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Let’s stop right there and notice how John describes himself. He doesn’t say, “the one who loved Jesus.” He doesn’t say, “the one who never quite loved Jesus the way he should.” He doesn’t say, “the disciple, the one who tried so hard to never mess anything up.” Nope. He does not identify himself by anything having to do with his doing-ness. He is simply, “the one that Jesus loved.”

Why would he say such a thing? Was it because that’s what he knew he should say? No. He said it because he knew it firsthand. His experience of Jesus from hanging out with him for a few years was, “this is Jesus, and he loves me.” Jesus loves me. This I know. And this love from his Teacher defined him. It RE-defined him. It displaced every other way he might use to identify himself throughout all of his books and letters to the early church. He is simply “the disciple Jesus loved.” And he passes that love down to all the “little children” he writes to in his letters. We are those “little children.”

So back to Peter: John says, “Hey Pete! It’s the Lord!” And dear, amazing, color-outside-the-lines Peter, what does he do? He ties on his outer garment that he had taken off for fishing, and in true Peter fashion he throws himself into the sea. No paddling with an oar, no thought for the boat, his friends, the fish that would be their income for that day. He is focused on one thing, and one thing only: the Lord is there. Anything between him and Jesus, watch out.

What kind of heart does that? And what sort of things would make a person jump out of a boat and leave everything just to get to your best friend and hero on the shore?

Whatever it is, does it look like there is any shame in him? I don’t see any. I see excitement, confidence, and reckless abandon, and this from the man who swore he would never deny Jesus then turned around and did it three times in a row. Immediately after that, we see him weeping bitterly. But now he’s throwing himself into the water, because the boat is just too darn slow.

What happened between Jesus and Peter to bring him to this moment? SOMETHING HAPPENED. Jesus happened.

Maybe it’s our culture, or maybe it’s just human nature, but I feel like it’s more popular to preach on Peter’s denial of Jesus than it is to watch Peter swimming like crazy for the shore. Why is that?

I wonder if it’s easier for us to relate to the shame and disappointment of Peter, as he tries his hardest to live out loyalty from a weak flesh, but in his words and actions he denies the Lord. Repeatedly. And then he leaves weeping bitterly—and some of us add, “beating himself with a stick.” I wonder if some of us get stuck at that place in the story, because we feel like we live there. We build a summer home in shame and despair, and we might even feel that “Failure” is essentially who we are.

If we were to hear a modern sermon preached on John 21, I feel like it might go something like, “God commands us to throw ourselves into the lake and swim. We are commanded to glorify him by fishing all night if we have to, and never settle for just riding in a boat. Train hard, swim hard for God.” That’s an exaggeration, but am I right that this kind of viewpoint is pretty common in our culture? Here’s the thing: Peter didn’t do that because he was commanded to do it. I think he did it because he wanted to be close to Jesus. Jumping in and swimming was the expression of his heart in the presence of Jesus. I think that speaks more to the weightiness of who Jesus is, reflected by a heart who has experienced his friendship, his care, his love…his pleasure to give his kingdom to his “little children.”

Whatever happened after that horrible night of denial, whatever Jesus said to Peter after his resurrection, it took that shame and embarrassment away. Permanently. John 21 is a scene of contradiction to any narrative that would say otherwise. What happened with Jesus? Could it be that Jesus helped Peter to see that “you are not what you do,” and called him a man after God’s own heart? Maybe he simply said, “I love you. You are mine, and your sins are forgiven. I am not ashamed of you, and you can’t mess that up.” What do we need to hear from him? What would help us let go of our own shame or discouragement? What might cause us to throw ourselves into the lake and swim like crazy just to be near him?

My friend, you are near him, because he is near to you. What do you need to hear from Jesus today? If you are his, then you are God’s “little child.” You are the disciple that Jesus loves. And that is all you ever need be. And if you find him on the shore cooking fish and inviting you to breakfast…he is most glad to see you!

The post S3:E22 – Nicole Kelley, “Peter and His Personal Record Swim Time” appeared first on Matthew Clark.

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