Fiction by Gary Piper
Simon Peter disciple and friend of Jesus lay beneath the stars burdened with doubt and guilt and in need a healing. But first he needed a confrontation. Moving at the speed of God the Holy Spirit journeyed through time and space to help Peter with both.
Over and over the words, “I do not know this Jesus of whom you ask,” rushed though his memory obliterating all other thoughts. Each word spoken in haste meant to protect himself now became a knife cutting away at his heart. Standing in the rain before an empty cross the only one ever to walk on water other than Jesus sank into a sea of regret, guilt, and hopelessness.
Falling to his knees the man called Peter remembered and wept. “Before morning, Peter you will have denied me three times,” the words of the Master echoed in his mind. How could I have done it? How could I turn his back on the Son of God? How could I ever face Jesus’ friends again? What will happen to me now, where will I go, what will I do? Each question sliced away another piece of his heart.
Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky and the disciple found himself again standing in front of the empty cross. The thunder rocked the earth and the mighty fisherman cowered in fear. A second time lightning streaked though the sky this time striking the empty cross with so much force it exploded and sent Peter rolling down Golgotha’s the hill. Over and over, down and down the rock strewn hillside he rolled, about two thirds of the way down his head struck a large size rock knocking him unconscious. Seconds later his battered and bruised body came to rest under a barren tree. The rain continued to fall, the lightning flashed, the thundered roared but the fury of the storm outside could not compare to the storm raging inside.
The Holy Spirit stood close by.
Minutes later Peter slowly regained consciousness and felt the pain from his fall. In no way did it compare with the pain he felt in his heart. Pulling himself against the tree trunk he managed to sit up. Another bolt lightning flashed and in the distance silhouetted against the dark sky he saw the figure of a man hanging from a tree. Simon Peter, the Rock, the Mighty Fisherman deep inside wished it were him.
The Holy Spirit cried.
Tilting his head back he searched for a strong limb. After finding one he reached around his waist and untied his belt. Slowly and painfully he struggled and pulled himself to his feet. Tying one end of the belt around his neck he stood on his tiptoes so he could tie the other end to the limb. Before the knot could be tied he became dizzy and his muscles weakened then an explosion went off in his head and he fell to the hard ground and again lost consciousness. As lightning flashed and thunder rolled across the stormy sky the Holy Spirit reached deep into his heart and took the sleeping Peter back through time.
“Untie your boat and sail into deep water and let down your nets,” a voice awoke Peter.
The sleeping disciple jumped to his feet, “Who said that?” he called out. Quickly looking around, the field was gone, the dreadful hill was gone, the sun was shining, there were voices of other people, and his body no longer hurt.
Standing in his boat was a young man, Peter guessed him to be in his middle thirties. “Who are you and what are you doing in my boat?”
“I am called Jesus. I noticed that you came in with no fish, yet it appears that you worked hard, hard work should be rewarded. If you will trust me and put out to sea again you will be rewarded,” the stranger replied.
“We have worked all night and caught nothing, we are tired and you promise us we will be rewarded if we go back out again? Who are you that can make such a promise?”
“I am, who I am,” came the reply.
Normally Peter would have told the man to jump in the sea but there was something different about this man. Reluctantly the fishermen readied their boat and nets to sail again. As the boat sailed out to sea the stranger perched himself in bow and looked out on the water. After a short period of time he turned to Peter, “Put down your nets here.”
Peter turned the boat so the wind wouldn’t tangle the net and when all was ready James and John threw out the net. Immediately they could feel the net filling up. “Quickly pull the net before it tears we must have caught something under the surface of the water,” James called out.
Peter turned the boat so the net would loosen. “Hold it Peter, those are fish in net, don’t loosen it or they’ll be gone,” James shouted. Quickly Peter brought the boat around almost throwing John into the water. He tied one end of the net to the stern and ran to the bow, together the two young muscular brothers pulled with all their strength but it was no use the net was too heavy.
“What’ll we do Peter the fish are going to ruin our net?”
Looking toward the stranger Peter shouted, “What will we do there are so many fish our net will burst or swamp our boat?”
Smiling the young man replied, “Why do you struggle alone? Ask and you will receive.”
“Help! Help!” Peter began shouting. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth when out of nowhere three boats came to help them. As the boats pulled up the winds suddenly stilled and the sea also became calm. Calm that is except between the four boats where a flurry of activity was going on just below the surface of the water.
“John hold the boat steady. James standby I’ll throw the fish into the boat,” Peter yelled as he jumped into the water. Moments later the other three boats positioned themselves around the net.
“Too many fish for me I need help,” Peter called out. In response three more men jumped into the net and began throwing fish into Peter’s boat. Frantically James tried to keep up.
“We’re loaded Peter, anymore and we’ll be under the water!”
“Okay James. Let’s fill the other boats,” Peter called out. As the number of fish in the net decreased the fishermen on the boats pulled up the net. A short time later there were only four men left treading water.
As the scene continued to unfold the young man named Jesus looked heavenward and said, “He will make a good Fisher of Men, Father.”
Back under a tree a bruised and battered Peter laid on the hard ground momentarily regained consciousness prayed. “Master I have let you down, I turned my back on you, I am nothing now that you are gone. Take my life Lord.” The vision continued.
The boats over flowing with fish sailed toward shore the men rejoiced and sang songs of praises. No one asked about the miracle that had just occurred, no one wondered. Standing tall as he guided the boat swiftly through the water the fisherman watched the stranger and wondered.
“Take the rudder James there’s someone I need to talk to,” Peter called out. Quickly James took control of the heavy-laden craft and Peter made his way to the front. As he approached the man named Jesus from the great beyond a voice echoed across the sky, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” Immediately Peter fell to his knees.
“Turn away and do not look at me Sir, for I am a lowly fisherman, a sinner and unworthy of such nobility.”
“Peter my friend from such unworthiness will come the kingdom of God. My people are as the fish in the sea they await a fisherman who is willing to jump in and save them. Hence forth now and forever you will no longer be Peter a fisher of fish but Peter a Fisher of Men. Take heed my friend there are storms on the horizon that will take you to the edge of destruction. They will make you think you are alone but remember I have prayed to the Father for your safety. I am with you always and will never leave you, never.”
Suddenly another bolt of lightning flashed across the dark sky and the thunder vibrated the earth with so much force it shook the ground awaking the injured Peter. Weak and unable to move he looked up through the branches and with the belt still tied around his neck prayed, “Please Jesus, can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
The Silent unseen Partner smiled.
Never in thousand years could Peter have ever prepared himself for the answer that was in store for him. Nowhere in his being would he find the ability to understand. The three-word answer would create a storm that would take him into eternity. It would take him from the depths of human suffering, and to heights of Jesus Christ. “You are forgiven,” the words stung like salt in an open wound. The once mighty fisherman cried like a baby.
As the morning sun broke over the horizon Peter rolled over and woke up for the first time since that fateful evening he smiled. For the first time in days he felt alive, he could feel new life was surging through him. Deep inside a new spirit glowed with the warmth and power of his friend Jesus. The Holy Spirit also smiled, yet there remained one more picture for Peter to see, a picture of three people who missed their chance to know Jesus. Later that morning Peter left and went fishing for three the people. It would turn into more than three thousand later.
Moving through time the Holy Spirit searches for someone else that has denied Jesus at some point in their life. He wants to confront, comfort, and heal them.
Could that someone be you?