I’ve noticed a tendency in me recently, whenever I have an idle moment, to head outside and do some gardening. Maybe it’s just the sunnier days and the warmer weather encouraging me out of doors, but I think it could be something deeper.
At times of stress, uncertainty, difficulty or danger, it can be very tempting to walk away from the situation that confronts us and go back to something familiar. Something safe. Something we know how to do and where we can feel in control. I used to work as a gardener, and it was one of the happiest times of my life. I’m going back into my comfort zone.
2000 years ago, Peter did the same. Having had to deal with the terror of the crucifixion, the shame of denying Jesus, the confusion of seeing his messiah ‘defeated’, and the challenge of three wonderful inspiring years of ministry coming to a gory end, he was worn out. He wanted to go back to what he knew how to do. So he went fishing (John 21:3). He wasn’t necessarily turning his back on his life as a disciple; he just needed to get some space.
In a similar way, Elijah responded to ministry burnout by wanting to be on his own, just like he had been for three solitary years when he was fed by ravens (1 Kings 19). And in his cave, angels ministered to him. In his fishing boat, Peter met the risen Christ. These times of stepping back from ministry are not necessarily the end. They may be a place for recommissioning, re-envisioning and refocusing.
Good self-care steps back for a bit when the world threatens to overwhelm us. And in doing the simple, familiar tasks, whether they be baking, gardening, reading or watching Netflix (you probably can’t go fishing at the moment!), we create a space in our busy lives for Jesus to come and meet us afresh and revive us.
Peter came away from his fishing trip with a renewed relationship with Jesus, confidence in his ministry and vision for the future.
How are you creating space in your life for Jesus?
Blog post first published on syzygy.org.uk on 30th March 2020
The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.