“What in the world were you thinking, Kenneth Ray… The very idea! What are people going to think when they hear you singing about your mother leaving her family to run off to some bar… And how dare you write about me having four hungry kids?” These are the opening words of Kenny Rogers’ 2012 autobiography, Luck or Something Like It.
This conversation occurred in a 1977 phone call shortly after Roger’s song, Lucille, began climbing the charts. Here are the words which offended his mother, “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille, with four hungry children and a crop in the field.” When his mother finally let her son explain he said, “Mom, first of all, you have eight kids. Secondly, it’s not about you. And thirdly, I didn’t write it.” In case you have not figured it out, Lucille was his mother’s name.
Like Kenny Rogers’ mother, all of us sometimes make incorrect assumptions. There is always more to a story than we know at the beginning. But misunderstandings happened long before Lucille Rogers misunderstood her son in 1977.
On the day Jesus was betrayed, his apostles discussed what they would do if he were attacked. They promised to stand with him no matter what, but when the soldiers came to arrest him, his disciples, who had been so sure they would never abandon their teacher, scattered like sparks from a bonfire.
Only Peter followed Jesus, and he did not follow closely. Before that night was over Peter had denied he was Jesus’ disciple three times. Following his resurrection, Jesus and Peter had a conversation which Peter assumed was to scold him. Let’s read it.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.’” (John 21:15-17, NLT)
Jesus told Peter to care for his sheep three times. Only later did Peter realize Jesus had not shamed him but reaffirmed him. Far too often we feel others are putting us down when our perception is colored by our insecurities. Like Peter, many assume God has given up on them, however, the famous apostle’s restoration shows us God is eager to forgive and use all of us regardless of how badly we have failed.