“Good Christian boys and girls sell what they have and give to those in need. Those are the ones who really love Jesus.” My heart sank. I liked my GameBoy and remote control cars. Why would Jesus want to play Pokemon and race endlessly around the track with my blue Mustang?
“Do you understand?” Nope. “Yes!” we screamed like a mob.
“You do love Jesus, don’t you?” Um I thought so? “Yes!” the volume covered the uncertainty.
“Do you love me?”
“Uh, yes.” He chuckled a little, slightly offended that he had to ask.
There was a small pause.
“Do you love me?”
“Yes! Of course I do!” the hurt turned to passive anger as he clenched the net a little tighter.
“No, Peter, do you love me?”
“For the love of-” Something in Jesus’ eyes stopped him. It was the look of someone who had seen it all. Not condescending, nor angry or expectant. Just hopeful and content. So he stopped. He thought. He understood. His betrayal flashed before him. Shame flooded his heart.
“Yes…Yes I love you with all that I have. If you just give me another chance to show y-“
“Peter… Do. You. Love. Me?”
Do I love Jesus? I’d like to think so. Over the past year I’ve had a growing feeling that I do. Reading his sweet words has given me peace. Talking with him has calmed my deepest fears. Serving his children has filled my soul with joy. But do I love Jesus? Do I love him? Hm…
Or do I love peace, joy, and the calming of my fears? You see, we’ve often been told that we need to give all that we have to Jesus. Our money. Our need for approval. Our “earthly desires”. And some of us can do that. We give and feel a little bit of satisfaction in that. “Mmm I just gave money to that homeless person. I feel good. I love Jesus.”
But what happens when there’s no more homeless people? How do we get our fix of feeling good? I often find that I love something more than Jesus. I love feeling good. I love peace. I love that contentment I get when I spot a little bit of grace in my day. But what if all of that disappears? What happens when there’s just pain and darkness? When your best friend dies? When your parents split up? When you literally cannot feel peace, joy, or contentment? What’s left? I think this is what Jesus was asking Peter. Do you trust that I am enough? Do you love me?
Jesus tells a story about a man who truly loves Him. He says that this man dug deep through the sand, through all of the tiny things that he loved, to find solid rock. And on the rock alone he built his house, his life.
We can still build houses. We can love GameBoy’s, peace, and our families. But if we leave a layer of sand on top of the Rock, if we lay the foundation of our trust on anything other than God, the waves are going to come and slide that house right off.
“If I build my life on the things which God did not form, he will have to destroy them, shake them back to chaos…”
So do I love Jesus? Yes, yes I do. But I still have some sand that needs to be washed away. There are still granules of life that I try to lay the cement on. I smooth it out, carefully, even religiously, but God graciously sends a wave my way and washes some more sand out to sea. I’d like to think I’m pretty close to the ancient rock yet an echo in my soul and a salty breeze convince me that there is a lifetime of waves over the horizon. Each ferociously grace-full. Each with a burning passion to destroy all that is unstable so that I might find the one true stability.
So I wait. The saltwater burns in my scrapes. I tell Jesus that I love Him. He gives me that look, the one only given by those who have been through it all. And together we’re pummeled, wave after wave. The saltwater burns in my scrapes, to be sure, but the gentle warmth of his hand and the slow pull of cool sand from under my feet remind me of something I once heard:
“When you get nearer to God his burning becomes a comfort.”
(Quotes by Oswald Chambers)