While I am no great expert on the scriptures, I am deeply moved by the accounts of Peter in the New Testament. He was brazen, impetuous, fiercely loyal, and loving—the original “rock.”
I particularly love the images from two different events, both of which occurred shortly after the Savior was crucified. First, in both Luke 24 and John 20, we’re told that early in the morning of Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene, the Savior’s mother, and other women were there at the tomb, ready to care for His body.
When these women came running to the disciples, telling of angels and folded linen and an empty tomb, the account says Peter and John ran to the sepulchre.1
I am inspired by the fact that they ran. They didn’t know what they would find in the tomb. They were reeling, I presume, with feelings of grief, shock, and confusion, grappling with bewildering questions like “How could this happen? And why, when He raised so many from the dead, did He not save Himself?” Amid the bitterness of betrayal and the vastness of their loss, they may have been experiencing physical and emotional exhaustion, paralyzing fear, and so much more.
But instead of debating and analyzing the women’s assertions or giving way to despair, they ran to the tomb. Not knowing all that was ahead, they still ran to Him.
Often when I am feeling bloodied and bruised, exhausted, empty, preyed upon or put upon, weak, wounded, less than, confused, abandoned, discouraged, outraged, fearful, tearful, or sinful—all too often—I withdraw from Him.
But Peter seemed to know better. He seemed to recognize that healing, strength, and clarity would be found only in the Lord’s presence. And he ran to seek that influence.
He showed his willingness to rush to the Lord once again just a short time later, as we read in John 21. Peter decided to “go a fishing,”2 and several of the disciples thought that sounded like a pretty good idea. However, their opinions may have changed after a full night of fishing without any success.
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.”3
After calling out to them and learning they had caught nothing, Jesus suggested that they cast their nets on the right side of the ship. When the nets were suddenly filled to the breaking point with fish, John said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”4
That was all it took.
“Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he … did cast himself into the sea.”5
He couldn’t wait even long enough to row the boat back to shore. Peter threw himself headlong into the water. I love to picture him furiously paddling and splashing with water spraying everywhere as he urgently and clumsily staggered up through the shallows to the beach. As John said, it was the Lord! And nothing would keep Peter from the Savior’s side. He exerted all of his strength and energy to draw near to his friend and his Redeemer.
This reminds me of how I felt when my missionary children arrived home. My family teases me because I went a little wild. Nothing could hold me back when I saw their tired but beautiful faces after two long years. I rushed to embrace my children—I was absolutely overjoyed to see them. Perhaps it was a similar type of emotion that drove Peter.
I’ve pondered a great deal about what I can learn from Peter’s example—his desire, his focus, his humility, his love. How can I run to the Lord? How pure and compelling is my desire to be in His presence? And how urgently do I seek Him?
For me, I think running to Him begins with loving Him—not in an abstract way but in a deeply personal, one-on-one way. Shortly after Peter’s swim, the Lord was asking him, “Lovest thou me?”6 And lest we skim and miss that question, the Lord repeated it three times. Obviously, it matters whether I love Him and how I show that love.
In addition, running to someone requires intention and direction. President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged us: “Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee. … Such reaching requires diligent, focused effort.”7
Elder Neil L. Andersen referred to President Nelson’s counsel and added: “The Savior said, ‘Look unto me in every thought’ [Doctrine and Covenants 6:36]. In a world of work, worries, and worthy endeavors, we keep our heart, our mind, and our thoughts on Him who is our hope and salvation.”8
I believe our love for Him and our focus on Him form a cycle. The more time we spend by His side, the more we love Him. And the more we love Him, the more we’ll want to run to His side despite what is happening around us.
Oh, how I wish to strive to do this better! To reject the tendency to get distracted, to despond, or to wait. No, I want to consciously run to Him—in my distress, in my fear, in my confusion, in my pain—not always knowing the end from the beginning, because He is the Beginning and the End. And He is risen.
1. See John 20:4.
2. John 21:3.
3. John 21:4.
4. John 21:5–7.
5. John 21:7.
6. John 21:15.
7. Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives” (general conference, Apr. 2017).
8. Neil L. Andersen, “We Talk of Christ” (general conference, Oct. 2020).