I want to open up with a question. What is your calling? For college students this is a very common question. What am I, who am I, and what is God calling me to do? In college I think we struggle with three main things: identity, purpose, and belonging. These are interconnected. A wrong direction in one will effect the others. So what were we created for? What is our calling?
The Disciple Peter was very close with our Lord. He sacrificed a life he was comfortable with, a life he knew in order to follow in the “dust of his rabbi”. What a beautiful sacrifice that was. As we learn in the Gospel narratives, Peter was close with Jesus and was known as one of the core leaders. Throughout his walk with Jesus though, we see his struggle with the flesh. However, one thing we do know for sure is that Peter loved Jesus. This was his identity. He saw God’s work in and through Jesus (Hypostatic Union of Christ: Jesus is fully God and fully man), and as a result he believed.
To go off on a rabbit trail a little bit, I think our rational thought gets in the way of our belief in God. We lead with our rational thought opposed to leading with our heart or imagination. I am reading the book “Possible” by Stephan Bauman, and he says,
“JR Tolkien was speaking with a well known atheist CS Lewis. CS would not, could not, believe in or prove the existence of God intellectually. However, JR saw the creative potential in CS. He encouraged him to approach the idea of Christ first with his imagination then his rationale. JR offered CS a new pathway to God, a means by which to bring together his intuition and reason. Through Narnia, CS helped readers first imagine a God of outrageous love, a God who relentlessly pursued his people. Lewis provided the theological rationale for the truth of Narnia, imagination first then intellect. CS spoke of his longings of writing as divine as arrows of joy being shot at him ever since childhood. They were such overwhelming desires that they forced him to reconsider another reality.”
Alright, so back to what I was previously saying about Peter. Peter found his identity in Christ, and then the unthinkable happened. He denied His Lord, in which he found his identity, three times. After this, Jesus looked right at him (I encourage you to watch this scene in the Passion of the Christ). Ouch!!! How crushing this must have been to Peter. Imagine the torment and struggles he carried with him. He had denied the very person in whom he put his trust. This, I am sure, also had a profound effect on his identity and on his calling.
We struggle with this same thing today. We sin, lie, cheat, steal, have lustful eyes, and more. When we sin, we ,in a way, deny Jesus. We turn our back to Him in order to embrace selfishness, to protect ourselves as Peter did, or to fulfill a desire. Denying Jesus affects our identity. We begin to struggle as Peter did.
One day after the resurrection, Peter was on a boat with other disciples fishing, when a mysterious man came on shore. They did not know who he was, but they were curious. Then the disciple John realized who it was, he yelled out, “It is our Lord!”
There comes a point in our lives when we need to notice and hear the voice of God. John noticed the Lord and made sure everyone in the boat also knew. I bet there was an excitement and eagerness in His voice. Notice how Peter responded though and keep in mind the guilt he is carrying around. He could have waited for the boat to come back to shore, but he didn’t. There was a deep cry and a deep desire in his heart to be reconciled, so he acted on it. Instead of waiting for the boat to be rowed to shore, Peter instead jumped into the water, swam, and ran to meet Jesus. I cannot emphasize how powerful and beautiful this response is. He did not wait. He jumped in the water. He ran to his Lord.
When Jesus met Peter on the shore Jesus asked him the same question three times, “Peter do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord. I love you,” Peter replied.
Peter rejected Jesus three times, and three times he was reconciled. Reconciliation is powerful. Like a child in a big mall, when they are with their parents they are safe, confident, protected, and loved. As a result they can be who they were meant to be. If they get lost though, they are vulnerable, scared, unprotected and more. This too affects their identity. Like a child, we should cry out, “ABBA”, “Daddy”. Then, when we find Him nothing else matters. We run, not caring what anyone else thinks, as Peter did, back to our Father. It is there that we find reconciliation, identity, purpose, belonging and more.
Notice that one of the last things Jesus tells Peter is to “feed my sheep”. His commission, or calling, was found in and with Jesus. After he was reconciled, Jesus commissioned him.
I think we are asking the wrong question. The question is not what is our calling. The question is who is our calling.
Colby May is a father of two wonderful boys and husband of 13 years (Amanda May). He is been involved in campus ministry for over 15 years, much of that time in Austin TX. Colby is founder and president of LIT, a non profit organization leveraging energy consulting as a means to empower change (via the local church) in the most vulnerable countries. He recently spent two years in Boston completing is MA in Ethics & Society (Biblical Justice) from Gordon Conwell Seminary.