10.8.05

Did Peter Fish Naked?

I feel:: sleepy
What song is on a loop in my head right now:: Pearl Jam~Black

Sunday morning, I managed to wake up early enough to get ready for church. Amazing since I didn't set my alarm. I was in a perky mood, well, perky for me anyway. I got dressed and set off for church at about 9:30am. I was tooling down the frontage road of the freeway that separates the town in which I live and listening quite contentedly to Pearl Jam when I noticed a man standing on the side of the road. He was an elderly man. The next thing I noticed was that he was completely naked. I was too shocked to even slow down. I just kept driving. My mind went into temporary shut down mode. After a few seconds I thought,"Was he really naked? I can't believe I just saw a naked man on the side of the road." Not only was he naked, but also he was leaning on the bridge supports as if he were posing for his high school yearbook picture. I found that to be extremely odd. Later on, (and right now) I felt badly for not stopping to see if he was in some sort of distress. I thought, when I came to my senses, that he might be suffering from Alzheimer's. From what I understand, some Alzheimer's patients are prone to walk around buck naked. Then, I thought what with my fear of men in general, that it might not have been a good thing for me to stop and talk to a completely naked man. I should have called someone though. I have a cell phone. I should have dialed 911 or something.

Well, I finally got to church and resolved not to think about the naked man and to concentrate on why I was at church: to worship, to learn and to hang out with my friends and their kids. I managed, thank God, to pay attention and to glean some knowledge during the service. My friend, Richard, gave the sermon. He was, at one time, the youngest Associate Pastor of the Assembly of God Churches in Arkansas. (The church I go to is not Assembly of God, it's Calvary Chapel. Richard's family is Assembly of God and he was brought up in that church and only changed a few years ago.) He said he thought he had everything figured out and that he "knew what ministry was and what ministry wasn't". Then, he said, after repeatedly banging his head against the wall, he realized that he was limiting God by trying to limit the things he could/would do for God. He talked about not putting God in a box by trying to figure out what God wants us to do, instead, just to do what God puts in front of us. The lesson focused on Peter and how he must have been a fisherman all of his life along with his father and his father's father. Richard said that we don't know this for sure, but it's a good bet. He said that he only found three places in scripture where Peter actually caught fish and those times were when he did what Jesus told him to do. He talked about the scripture when Jesus appeared to the disciples, after his ressurrection, as they were fishing. They had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Jesus called out to them from the shore, but they didn't recognize him. He said,"Friends, have you any food?" When they said no, he told them to put their net out on the other side of the boat, then they would have fish in their net. Richard said that he could imagine how tired they all must have been after fishing all night and not catching anything. He said two things about how he would feel if someone came up to him at the end of a tiring, useless day and told him that he needed to work more: 1. that he would say something like,"Man, I can't help you right now. I've been working all night. I'm tired. My wife is cooking breakfast and I need to get home to see my kids." or 2. that he would be extremely indignant that someone who didn't know how to fish (i.e. a carpenter) was telling him how to do his job. But they did what Jesus told them to do and they caught so many fish that they had to drag the net along the bottom of the water in order to get it to shore. What touches me is when they got to shore, Jesus had made a fire and had bread and fish already cooking. He always served them. I think he did this because of his great love for them and because he wanted them to follow his example. When Jesus asked Peter three times,"Peter, do you love me?" (one time for each denial) and Peter says,"Yes, Lord you know I love you." it makes my heart ache. Peter was so confident in his faith before his denial. When Jesus told him,"You will deny me three times." He vociferously rejected this idea telling Jesus in effect that he loved him more than all the other disciples did. He was so prideful in his faith. So was I at one time. For me, everything used to be black/white. There was no middle ground. I was so confident in my own abilities that I thought I would never fall so low as I had been. (Right now, I'm hearing in my head,"Surprise, surprise, surprise!") Basically my attitude was,"I'm right and you're wrong. If you don't see it that way now, I'll badger you until you agree with me." I was so, so prideful. I thought that I was such a different person than I was before I started following Christ. A few years, and a few ladder rungs downward, I know that I'm just as capable of doing bad things as I was before. I don't even say anymore that I "follow Christ". I say that I am a follower of Christ and that I try the best I can to do what he would have me to do. That doesn't mean that I'll actually accomplish it. I'll probably fall flat on my face several times before I realize that I'm being an idiot. When Peter sat on the shore with the risen Christ and said,"Yes, Lord you know that I love you." it makes me think that he was saying in effect,"I love you like a brother and you know that this is all that I can give you." I thought to myself during the service,"How many times have I denied Christ in my words or actions or thoughts? How much do I really love God?" My heart sank right then into what was almost despair, but then I realized that I do love God, but my love for him is not perfect, just as I am not perfect, but I am always coming back to him and asking for his forgiveness and wanting to be with him. Right as I was thinking this, Richard started to talk about David and how he committed all these atrocious sins: he slept with another man's wife; he had her husband killed, etc...but yet God called him a man after his own heart because he always admitted his sin and humbled himself before God. So, I realized that I'm ok and that made me feel a lot better and I was able to pull myself out of the cavern of my thoughts and concentrate on what was being said and after that, to worship. As if to cement what had just been on my mind, right after I was through with my inner dialogue, I looked to my left to see a good friend of mine sitting next to me in the pew. I started to really study his facial features (not paying attention again) and then I thought the most absurd thing. I said to myself,"I bet he's hung like a horse." I've never thought that way about him before. Like it really matters anyway. It disturbed me and I shook my head as if the thought would somehow magically fall out of my ear. It didn't. So, during the end of service worship, while I was standing with a white knuckled grip on the pew in front of me, I sang and prayed that God would forgive me for lusting after my friend (Why I was lusting after him is a mystery to me. I never have before and I've known him for like fifteen years.)and to forgive me further for lusting after a married man. Oh joy. The things I think about in church. I said earlier that I'm imperfect, but that, I think, is the understatement of the century.

After the service was over, I was talking to another friend of mine, Mary, about my classes at school, when Richard's wife Kacy, came up to me and asked,"What car do you drive?" I told her and then I noticed a shy, guilty face peek out from behind her back. The face said,"I just backed into your car." Before I could stop myself, I rolled my eyes and gave an exasperated sigh. I walked outside to discover that she had hit my car on the driver's side front panel and the driver's side door. She hit it so hard that I couldn't open the driver door wide enough to even get in. When I left, I had to crawl in through the passenger side over the bucket seat and the gear shift. That was fun. I managed not to say anything bad to her about her driving skills while I was copying down her insurance information. I actually wasn't really thinking anything disparaging at that moment,(Well, her boyfriend/husband was laughing like he'd never seen anything so funny and I really wanted to smack him.) but when I got in my car to drive home, the little angry woman that lives in my head started cursing like a sailor. The whole way home, I was totally fixated on how stupid I thought she was for just backing into my car like that. The mental cursing continued like a torential rainfall even after I got home. My dad asked me what was wrong as soon as I walked in the door. I guess he could tell how pissed I was. I told him about what happened and as I turned to walk to my computer room, I mumbled,"That dizzy bitch needs to learn how to drive." I kicked off my shoes so hard that they banged against the wall and ricocheted from there into my laundry basket (they were wooden clogs so it was pretty loud). I sat in my big chair and proceeded to stew in my anger. After awhile, I realized I utterly stupid I was being and then I felt like total ass. So began another session of me telling God what an awful person I am and asking him to forgive me. I am convinced that I am the most stubborn, willful, rebellious, lustful, sinful, etc...girl that ever existed. I might as well just make a flashcard that reads,"I have just [insert sin here]. I don't deserve your love and patience God. Please forgive me and restore in me a right heart." I should just carry that around with me all the time. Frustration is the word o' the day.

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