Growing up I was fascinated by sea glass. On Sunday mornings, we would go for walks on the beach at Avon or Belmar. I would be focused, head-down on the sand as we walked, scanning the shells for the cloudy, rounded pieces of glass. I loved how their time in the sea had smoothed off the rough edges of these broken bits of glass. I’m not sure if it was the. challenge of spotting them or the off-hand chance of finding the rare blue or red pieces, but I know that searching for sea glass was one of my favorite memories of early childhood.
I had forgotten about the joys of searching for sea glass until the boys and I were exploring the Pacific coast line the other day. The boys were quickly drawn into the allure of sea glass (Eli loves a good “tweasure” hunt and Ty has been blessed or cursed by my semi-addictive personality).
As it was, later that day I was spending some time reading over and trying to better understand the book of 1 Peter. In thinking about the context, Peter is writing to a group of scattered, tired, persecuted believers trying to encourage them to hang in and hang onto Jesus and His words. In chapter 1 He keeps trying to remind them that there is a truth, a reality much deeper and more lasting and real than their present experiences. He keeps juxtaposing words like temporary, for just a little while describing their present reality with words like imperishable, unfading, eternal for the coming reality.
What struck me as odd was that these words were coming from Simon Peter who was known as impetuous Peter in his younger years with the man Jesus. Peter who was quick to act immediately without thinking; Peter who was quick to make vows he couldn’t fulfill; Peter who wanted the kingdom to come right now; Peter who tried to correct Jesus. Peter, jagged piece of glass, sharp, protruding. In a poignant moment with Jesus after His resurrection, Jesus spoke into this impetuousness in His beloved disciple.
In John 21 Jesus says to Peter, “Truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you and bring you where you do not wish to go.”
In other words, “Peter, I know you so well. I’m familiar with your potential and your rough edges. In time, you will learn the art of patience and submission, you will begin to see past the now and to hope in the coming reality. You are in the long process of being fashioned and polished and smoothed out by My loving hand and plan. ”
A lifetime later, an aged Peter is writing to young believers who are getting stuck in the present, encouraging them to enjoy the process of being rounded out, the trials that help to set our eyes on the longer view of reality. He is speaking from experience, from the maturity that comes from a lifetime of submitting and waiting and enduring, all the while fixing eyes on the person of Jesus.
Peter, the rounded, smooth, transformed piece of sea glass. This Peter gives me hope that, in time, my rough edges will be transformed, that my boys will be matured into something beautiful, that our time in the waves of life are for a much larger purpose than we suppose.