There’s a scene I love in Forrest Gump. Inspired by his late best friend Bubba (spoiler), Forrest has decided to become a shrimp boat captain and sends a letter to Lt. Dan, asking him to be his first mate. This seems pretty far fetched since Lt. Dan has since the war become a double amputee, wracked with guilt for surviving his stint in Vietnam and falling into drug and alcohol addiction. And by the way, he kinda hates Forrest.
But, to Forrest’s great surprise, one day, Lt. Dan appears on the pier. Forrest immediately proceeds to leap off of his boat and swim towards the him, leaving the boat to crash elsewhere in the harbor.
Forrest Gump: Lieutenant Dan, what are you doing here?
Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: I’m here to try out my sea legs.
Forrest Gump: But you ain’t got no legs, Lieutenant Dan.
Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: [mildly irritated, but understanding] Yes… yes, I know that. You wrote me a letter, you idiot!
Today, I am sitting in a corner of Panera off Culver and Barranca with a terrible cup of watery coffee and my bible. An app I use leads me to read John 21, a passage where Jesus makes a similarly unexpected visit to Peter.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. – John 21:4-7
Peter realizes that the resurrected Jesus is on the shore, and refusing to wait for the boat’s return, decides to jump out and swim a football field’s distance over to his Lord. He even brings his coat, for appearances.
Jesus appears suddenly to his disciples, and Peter can’t contain himself, he dives off of his fishing boat to greet his Lord, his teacher, his best friend. He is fresh off of his worst failure, but he doesn’t let the guilt drive him away, he recognizes how wonderful it is just to be in the presence of Jesus again. So, without hesitation, Peter swims feverishly towards the shore. Reading this today, I was moved by Peter’s response.
In that way, Jesus popped up unexpectedly in my day too. I just hope I won’t mind getting wet.