Mothering without fear

When Jesus shows up on the morning after our biggest failure, He doesn't judge, scold or say: "I told you so." Instead, he cooks some food for us. And then he says, "Come eat breakfast." It's been a terrible week. Peter has denied Jesus three times. Judas has hung himself. Jesus is dead. And now, the one thing they know how to do--fishing--isn't even working. They've fished all night and caught nothing (St. John 21).

But it's morning now, a new day. And from the shore, some crazy dude is calling at them to let down their nets on the right side of the boat. It's a deja-vu moment. Just a couple years ago, they'd spent a similar night fishing without success. And when Jesus told them to let down their nets, Peter was like: "Yeah, we did that already." But they did it anyway and their nets started breaking, their boat sinking with how many fish they pulled in.

Could this be happening again? So, they let down their nets and yes, the haul is huge. John, the little disciple--the only one who didn't abandon Jesus when He was dying--is the first to recognize Jesus.

He nudges Peter, "It's the Lord."

Peter is just so in it he doesn't even realize what's going on. He's so enmeshed in the nets, grappling with the details of what needs to be done that he needs John to point out the bigger picture: "It's the Lord."

Peter's like: "WHAT?!" He looks up and squints toward shore. That's when it all hits him. It's Jesus. It's Jesus. Jesus is ALIVE? That means it's ALL true! Everything is NOT lost!

And I love Peter, here. He's stripped naked for work. He's way out on this boat. But that doesn't stop him. Peter just totally bails off the side of the boat and thrashes for shore. "It's the Lord! It's the Lord!"

You'd think Peter would stay on the boat, all ashamed. You'd think he'd be the last one off the boat to greet Jesus. You'd think that after his big, public humiliation, Peter would just keep to himself and tone it down a bit. But he doesn't. Peter is so human. Peter knew he had failed and messed up. Maybe he was so downhearted that the other disciples didn't want to let him go fishing alone.

And so, Jesus came to them. Jesus didn't wait for them to get their act together. He just showed up without judgment, without anger, without saying: "I knew you'd go back to fishing!" Jesus met them right where they were, right in the middle of their failure, their discouragement, their lame attempts at going back to fishing.

And after breakfast, all Jesus wants to know is if Peter loves him. Jesus asks three times--the same number of times Peter denied him. The three-fold affirmation of love expels the lingering doubt of betrayal and Jesus commissions Peter to do His work.

This is the only way I can mother without fear. I am going to fail and probably miserably. There will be times when it seems all is lost. God's silence will sometimes make me think He's dead.

Jesus understands. He doesn't expect me to be anything other than what I am: human. Jesus won't show up and scold me. He'll call out to me in the middle of my futile fishing. He'll watch me thrash toward shore, smiling at my wild abandonment. He'll feed me breakfast.

And then He'll ask me if I love Him.

If I have love, then I have everything. And if I have His love, then I have nothing to fear.


I'm sharing this message at a MOPS group on Monday evening. If there is one thing I want mothers everywhere to know, it's that we are loved and we don't have to be afraid. We are loved, we are loved, we are loved. (Your prayers for my speaking engagement are greatly appreciated).