I feel like I’ve slipped on Peter’s skin again. The boat reeks of fish as I climb over the splintered sides and push from shore. I probably won’t be catching anything but seaweed today. I can’t see Him.
I can almost feel the breeze, the same that kissed the face of Jesus. Oh, leaders of all kinds make fun of Peter. I’ve laughed along with them as they listed all of his screw ups. He lost his temper and cut someone’s ear off. He walked with the very Son of God and then was mocked by roosters when he denied Jesus in a moment of fear. I laughed until I realized I was him.
I don’t use a knife for anything but a tool, but my words have cut through the skin of more than one person, sometimes out of impatience, sometimes out of complete unedited idiocy.
I’ve believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember, but in seasons of heartache, seasons of stretching $25 into a week of groceries, moments when I just wasn’t good enough, I’ve looked away from the sky to my own solutions, finding shame in my denial of His power, His love.
I cast my nets and sit. I wait.
Sometimes in the waiting, I get impatient. I grab a dirt-coated worm, stick it to a hook and plunk it into the sea. No bites worth keeping.
I tug on my shirt and stare at the frayed edges. I look across the water to the hills.
Suddenly, a flash of white. A form, a bright something hovers over the water and I cry out. It’s a ghost—a haunting of all my screw-ups finally come to devour me!
I’m done for.
When he says my name my heart winds down to shame. It’s Him. How could I have not recognized my friend?
I look around and take a feeble step. Should I?
Who do I think I am?
I want to – I look at His face, and just for a moment I feel like I’m anything but a dimwitted Peter.
I step onto the water and it holds. “I’m coming”, I say and I start to move forward. The sun burns fierce on my skin, a zephyr nearly knocks me over, but I keep my eyes on Him and I AM WALKING ON WATER.
The wind spins on my shoulder for a moment and blows trash in my ear. It reminds me that I’m not good enough for this.
My feet break through the water and I’m in over my head. I can’t breathe. All the mistakes I’ve made rush into my mouth and I’m drowning.
A hand lifts me up, up, up, toward the light. The surface breaks into a thousand shards as my Friend lifts me into the boat.
He puts His hands on either side of my face. They are bleeding, pierced with a sea full of hooks. Mine sticks straight into His heart and Love spills all over me.
“My blood is enough to pay for all of it,” He says, “Just keep your eyes on Me.”
Then he slips Peter’s skin from me and says,
“You are wonderfully and uniquely made.”
I pop back into my living room and stare at the painting on the wall called, The Word. I see Peter, my brother from the line of Oops, and watch as he leaves the boat behind to follow our friend.
Despite his mess-ups, his denial, his blunders, Jesus takes him and gifts him with grace and strong feet – the kind that keep walking toward Jesus. He keeps walking. He fishes for those stuck in the boat.
And somewhere along the way Jesus made him into a rock star.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18 (HCSB)
I look at The Word again, catching sight of Peter’s last days. His walk has led him to a finely sculpted artwork. All because he kept his eyes on Jesus.
“Uh huh, I know how that is, Pounce.” I give the old tiger striped thing a nod and watch him stare at the sunspot. He snuggled next to it as it shone over the patch of wall and dusty plant, but after all his efforts it wouldn’t move to his spot on the floor. After he pawed it, nudged it with his head, he sauntered to my bed still soaked in morning shade and fell asleep.
I wanted a moment too. Hot tea and uninterrupted silence to wake, pray, and charge up for what the day brings. Like Pounce, I try grabbing for that comfort, but the house erupts early, before I can open my eyes and I find myself without my sunspot. My body jerks to life like a cold car engine and sputters, reeling in the chaos before I’m ready to go.
After dropping my daughter off at school, I find a cartoon for Noah. I can’t tell you how Sesame Street and Curious George bless me with an hour and a half of time to get a few things done. Of course, every couple minutes brings an interruption, every commercial break brings who knows—a full body tackle from a rowdy little boy, a temper tantrum, a “Mommy, I need…”
I find Pounce asleep on my bed. His aging frame has shrunk, his paws no longer twitch in his sleep from dream adventures – he just stays curled in a fuzzy ball, waiting for his sun.
The light creeps down the wall, finding the floor when Curious George comes on. Pounce doesn’t know it, but the sun is coming, still shining, still doing its job as he sleeps. The moment I wait for is coming too. The Son I crave never sleeps. When I sit down to write, when I scrub the oatmeal off neon bowls, He comes. Sometimes, when He hasn’t given me that moment to sit, He stays at my side shining on my boy that is rowdy, but…healthy. He shines on those dirty dishes that soak in the filth so easily, but hold all the food we need. He illuminates the small things that rob me of rest, but when I take a moment to be where He wants me, I find they’re blessings. And I can rest in the Son that never fades.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
What do you do when that thing you want seems unreachable? Tell us in the comments.
As an older teen I was a teacher’s aide for a semester, and spent the majority of my time at my desk reading for pleasure until a project presented itself. On one of these half-busy days the teacher picked up the book on my desk, read the description and squinted at me for an awkward moment. “There are lots of good magazines and books in my room you can read. They talk about Hinduism, Buddhism, open-minded ideas.”
My book talked about God.
When I walked through the halls of my college dormitory, girls of all kinds engaged in everything their parents told them not to: Drugs, alcohol…use your imagination. Even most of the Christians joined in, extinguishing this little light of theirs. The first taste of independence reigned, leaving not-quite-grownups at the mercy of their insecurities.
If you didn’t anchor yourself to God, and I mean really held him tight, you became a party favor – a dancer at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Many of the teachers encouraged (not so) “open-minded” ideas. A large portion of them agreed with a camp counselor I had one summer that the Christian way of thinking was harmful and therefore should be eradicated. Nothing much has changed. This is how kids are met when entering college. Out of context Bible verses get thrown in their faces, and unless they know the real deal, the arguments against God become siren’s songs.
Have you walked through the book section in WalMart lately? Take a look and see what the youth are reading.
According the Steve Laube Agency, “There are 200,000 new books published in the United States each year from traditional publishers (self-publishing would more than double that). Of those, less than 10,000 would be Christian books from Christian publishers.”
How many faith-based books are written for late teens and early twenty something’s? Very few compared to the majority of books that hit the shelves. Most of them are permeated with vampires, zombies, and many hopeless messages, submerging our youth in many “open-minded” ideas. These books become best sellers and then get made into movies. They get printed into posters, stamped on itsy bitsy T-shirts and get worn by young mothers who name their children after vampires and other similar influences. Books are powerful.
The New Adult genre popped in the book world a few years ago when a handful of authors thought,” Why aren’t there books for 18-25 yr. olds?” Finally, our readers who are struggling with the shift from childhood to adulthood have relatable characters. The problem? These books are not much different from the YA books for older teens, except they are stuffed with more sex. Yep, that’s their answer for the New Adult generation.
When researching the popular books and movies for youth, my husband and I went to see one of these very-popular-books-turned-movie and I was so disappointed when one of the main characters (a Nephilum) announced the challenges they faced. They would fight, and keep fighting, but they could never win. There was no hope. This was the main theme of the movie.
Parents – reading, yes, even recreational reading, is a huge part of education/inspiration. It is powerful. By throwing your support to Christian writers/publishers, you nudge the faith based books onto the shelves, giving your child options that have what so many of the secular books don’t have: hope, truth.
Christian Writers—if you’re feeling the nudge to write for youth, and are keeping your sights on crossover books – don’t forget the Christian youth surrounded by dark—too dark, influences. They need your support. Meet them right where they drown in the world’s mud (And the Amish books aren’t going to do it for them).
I asked the sales clerk at the local Christian bookstore how many New Adult books she had in stock. After scratching her head and some keyboard pounding she found ONE on the way. ONE. Get writing.
Readers—thank you for your unfailing support. God is bringing his love and His eternal truth to you in the art of fiction. Look for it!
How do books influence you/ your family members? Tell us in the comments.
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Psalm 149: 1-4
“Let’s catch a shadow”, I tell him as he pushes around his new bike. Royal blue, motorcycle style, it was the first thing he woke up to on Christmas morning.
This idea came after he had been waking up to shadows that haunted him. Shadows lit by his nightlight from behind a coat, a toy; these things that cast their images upon the wall morphed into monsters, sending him to get me at all hours of the night. “They’re bad shadows, Mommy.”
He pulls his bike onto the patio where I’m waiting with sidewalk chalk in hand. Suspicion paints his face in squints and I point out the shadows – Handlebars, peddles, chain. They stretch unnatural, but he sees the familiar as the sun lights the sky, warm on our backs. The only darkness right now is that shadow. “Okay.”
“Okay, pull it away.” I smile as he catches sight of it.
“Oh, yeah, Mommy. Let’s do Sissy’s now.” He pulls over Chloe’s bike and I pick up pink and begin to trace. “Are you done yet, Mommy?” He moves the bike to see where I’m drawing.
He moves the bike back into position and waits. He’s excited now, watching these bikes loom larger than life.
“I’m done.” He moves the bike quick and delights at the two captured on the patio.
“More, Mommy.” We trace each other’s feet, our legs, and our faces pressed into the patio, hats crowning our heads.
For this day he gets to hold the shadows captive. This moment, he knows that the handle bars are not twice-the-size monsters, but darkness at the mercy of light.
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
I wasn’t going to end my vacation this early. I just finished the first draft of my novel and didn’t have time to write a blog ahead of time like I usually do. Writing ahead allows me to come back and edit, making for smoother reading without so many typos and cleaning up my tendency, toward, comma – happiness,,.
But God woke me up with a message.
He brought to my mind the pampas grass outside my bedroom window.
Every time I look at it, I think of God. The light touches it holy. Something about the way it reaches toward the sun gives me a dose of peace. I often pray when I look at it because I know God is never apart from His creation.
If it reached toward others of its own kind, I would focus on them and make comparisons. Where does it lack fullness… is it as tall as its cousin in the neighbor’s yard?
But the light hits it so lovely and it always points to the Son. It reaches toward the sky with such grace, I know that it lacks nothing.
If its arms lowered to peek at its cousin, it may forget to rise up again because the cousin next door is oh so beautiful. Maybe it would forget to stand up straight because the cousin looks so abundant, every arm in place, a perfect curve on top.
Its beautiful arms slouch. Heaviness presses them down until they no longer receive the nourishment from the sun; the center lays empty, exposed to the world.
And it withers – it’s beauty darkens, drains into the earth. It catches the loose branches blown from the neighboring yard and stuffs itself full of another’s beauty, but instead of glowing, it lays heavy in shadow.
Friends, if you lean too heavily toward the world, it will strip away your peace, your self-esteem. You don’t need the curves or abundance of your neighbor. When you shine with God’s glory – when you stand tall in the beautiful way He made you – others will see it true. If you reach in the right direction, you will point others toward His perfect peace.
If we point toward God, our daughters won’t feel like their self-worth lies in the eyes of guys. If we reach toward our creator, our sons will see true beauty, and marry girls that shine with God’s glory.
If we let God be our focus, our children will know how to mend the broken places.
God is endless grace. He blows in Fall to clean the dead branches away, and wraps us with Spring, making us new again.
And He says, “Rest in Me, grow toward me, My beautiful creation. And I will bring you peace.”