The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered…and he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter never thought of turning (in the thick of his sin), but the Lord turned first. And when Peter would rather have looked anywhere else than at the Lord, the Lord looked at Peter. Only when we come to our Father in response to his waiting look can we be freed and forgiven.
~Henry Drummond from Bread and Wine
Peter’s bitter tears flowed–out of his predicted personal failure, out of recognition of his guilt, as well as being caught in the act of doing what he said he would never do, knowing he himself had turned away and denied his best friend, mentor, and Lord.
What message was the Lord sending when he turned first with that “straight look” after Peter had turned away?
It wasn’t condemnation: Peter feels the heaviness of his guilt without any assistance at all.
It wasn’t anger: Peter’s denial was just as He predicted so not at all unexpected.
It was a look of love:
full of sad longing and waiting,
a look reflecting rejection and hurt,
a look of resignation, acknowledging the hard and painful path lying ahead,
a look wondering how long it will take the children of God to accept grace and to open the gift of forgiveness they were freely given.
We need to know this: even when we have turned away, denying and rejecting our relationship with Him, He turned toward us first, loving us as we are. But our story doesn’t end there. Our tears are dried and we turn back to Him, looking Him full in the face.
This year’s Lenten theme for Barnstorming:
God sees us as we are,
loves us as we are,
and accepts us as we are.
But by His grace,
He does not leave us where we are.
Turn to me, O man and be saved,
Says the Lord for I am God;
There is no other, none beside me.
I call your name.
1. I am He that comforts you;
Who are you to be afraid of man who dies,
is made like the grass of the fields, soon to wither.
2. Listen to me, my people;
Give ear to me my nation:
a law will go forth from me,
and my justice for a light to the people.
3. Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth down below.
The heavens will vanish like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like a garment.
– John Foley