Charcoal Fires




I love charcoal fires. The warmth and the crackling sounds remind me of slower times and easier days. I enjoy sitting around them talking, laughing, and sometimes singing with the sounds of frogs and insects in the background. I love roasting marshmallows and cooking over the fire. Once I was camping with a friend and we made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days over the coal fire. Yummy. Even thinking about the times around a charcoal fire invokes all the memories and emotions associated with those times.

There are only two times in the Bible when a charcoal fire is mentioned. The first time is in the middle of the night, when Jesus was being beaten and sentenced to death, Peter warmed himself by a charcoal fire and denied Jesus three times. (John 18.18.) Jesus knew Peter would deny Him and even told him so. Peter emphatically said he would never deny Jesus, but he did what he never wanted to do. Standing by that fire of coals, he denied he knew Him. Perhaps he was overwhelmed with the atrocity that was happening to the Savior, but when the rooster crowed, he had denied Jesus three times. Jesus not only knew the future events in Peter’s life, He knew Peter would need healing and restoration.

So, on that post resurrection morning, Jesus went to the sea where Peter and some others had gone back fishing. He built a charcoal fire on the beach and began cooking. (John 21.9) Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. How the smell and warmth of those coals must have burned in his mind as he remembered those moments and the sorrow for denying the Savior. But, the Great Psychiatrist took Peter back to the painful time and memories and Peter received healing and restoration.

Jesus has walked with all of us every day of our lives. There is no event He has not witnessed or been close to us during. He knows every hurt or disappointment or painful memory that has ever happened to each of His children and He wants us to be healed. He died on a Cross and rose from the dead to heal us. The Bible tells us ‘the punishment needful for us to obtain peace was put on Him.’ (Isaiah 53.5) When a situation ‘pushes buttons’ or creates anxiety in us or causes us to have uncomfortable memories, this is a signal there is some deep hurt that needs the touch of the Savior. It is these moments Jesus takes us back to the charcoal fires in our lives to touch those painful memories and restore us to Himself.

Like Peter, life bumps us and we hurt – sometimes very deep hurts and scars.  Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we are not people we wish we were. If we do not receive the touch of the Lord, these hurts may hinder us in relationships and happiness. Jesus knows.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him- I think because Peter denied Him three times. Exasperated with shame, Peter said, “Lord you know all things, You know I love You.” Jesus did know Peter loved Him, He knows we love Him, He knows we make mistakes and need His love desperately. I say this too, “Lord, You know I love You.” I pray for all of you to love Him too.

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  1. This is one of my favorite stories. I can always picture Jesus on the shore cooking breakfast for the Apostles while they fished. And then He sees Peter is feeling the guilt about denying Him. And by giving Peter the chance to redeem himself, he also gives him his mission. Feed my lambs. Genius.

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