Last fall I received a text to meet an old acquaintance from out of town at a coffee shop. Less than ten minutes after arriving he wanted to leave – saying there where too many listening ears and uncaring hearts. We walked across the street to his hotel room. We sat with a 40 watt bulb between us, and the muffled sound of the nightly news from the next room playing as the sound track this evening.
He began to share with me a life of lies. Lies he justified because the truth would be worse. Now decades later the Shame has caught up to him. He is unknown, he is alone living with the absence of honesty and peace. So I asked him the most obvious question, ‘Why don’t you come clean?’ It seemed simple enough for me, but this is his Shame trap. If people find out he has been lying, they will abandon him, Yet when they discover the truth on their own, they will hate him.
He has never tasted the joy that one experiences when there are no secrets. When you can be transparent and real and feel accepted as worthy.
We usually want to give our acceptance of someone after we give approval of how they live..Jesus isn’t like that.
Luke writes that Simon was fishing all night, and by morning he catches nothing.
While he is washing his nets and getting ready to go home, Jesus shows up.
The crowd that is following him is pressing him down to the shore. So he walks into the water and climbs into Simons boat and finishes his talk. Then he asks Simon to try one more time. Simon doesn’t want to, but concedes. The catch is enormous, too big for nets, too big for boats, too big for Simon. Astonished he falls to his knees and begs Jesus to leave because he is too sinful. He doesn’t deserve this.
He doesn’t deserve fish?
Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”
Afraid?, what is Simon Afraid of? He doesn’t feel he deserves this moment.
I have a feeling that Brene Brown (a shame researcher from Houston Texas) would say Simon is feeling Shame. A fear of disconnection.
It is possible that Simon, in witnessing this moment of grace…does’t feel he deserves it.
Do we ever deserve grace? I wonder in this moment if he is thinking that if Jesus really knew who he was, he wouldn’t want to be connected with him.
Simon does something incredible, he becomes as Brene Brown would say, ‘excruciatingly vulnerable’. He puts it all out there. He declares, ‘Leave me, I am a sinner’. When Jesus responds with ‘Simon, don’t be afraid’, I suspect that Simons vulnerability was met with grace and love. Yes Simon you are a Sinner, but you are worthy of my love and grace-follow me and discover you were made for more than this.
Simon pulls his boat ashore, and walks away from it all, the boat, the fish, all of it.
Why would he leave everything he knows to follow this rabbi? Because Jesus now knows the worst about Simon, yet still wants him to follow.
As we start at this narrative in Luke 5 and head North through the gospel you see more people coming to Jesus with excruciating vulnerability-lepers, adulterers, robbers, stealers, betrayers, liars, all imperfect…yet worthy of his love.
I firmly believe that it is harder to convince someone of their worth, than it is to convince them there worthless.
Said another way, it is easier to make someone believe they are a sinner than to make them believe they can be a saint.
When I think about that story of Peter and his encounter with Jesus that day by the shores of Galilee. I think I have played every character in that story.
I have been the crowd listening to Jesus and watching others struggle. I have been Peter many times, confronted by Grace and feeling undeserving.
But this night in the Hotel was the first night I have ever been Jesus.
I looked at my friend and told him to not be afraid,
Yes he is imperfect, he is a sinner, but he is worthy of love and acceptance.
I encouraged him to quit trying to catch life in a net. To quit trying to find a better spot to catch more of what he thinks will fill him. To leave it all, and follow the one who thinks he’s worthy.
That the answer is on the shore. If you can believe what Jesus says on the shores of your life, it will make all the difference on the seas.
And in those moments when you feel inadequate, far from perfect, he offers you another chance. When you spot his goodness in your life, and fear you’ll sabotage it. When you think you don’t deserve his love or forgiveness.
In those moments when you call out for him to leave you because your far from perfect, He says, yes you are, but you’re not far from worthy.
And you where made for more than this.
You may also like “Grief sucks, make sure your sucking on the right end of the stick”