In a recent book, Healing Your Wounded Soul, Father Joshua Makoul underscores the importance of “moments of clarity” as they relate to opening the path to salvation, and keeping a person on that path.

He describes a moment of clarity as a moment when “something that had been elusive suddenly becomes clear.” Indeed, moments of clarity are characterized by their suddenness and vividness and are “…often accompanied with an intense desire to follow through and make changes in our life.”

He encourages us to think of these moments as stars by which to plot our course through the sea of life.

“Much as the sailors of old used the stars to plot their courses, so we use these moments of insight and clarity to plot our course as we journey through this world. We sail from insight to insight, growing each time we have such a moment by putting the insight into practice.”

In the Gospel of Luke we read that Simon-Peter has such a moment of clarity by the lake of Gennesaret.

We are familiar with the story. Jesus, pressed by the crowd, enters into Simon’s boat and asks him to put out a little from the land so that he can teach the crowd from the boat. When he is finished teaching, he tells Simon-Peter “put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon-Peter replies that they’ve been struggling all night and caught nothing, but nevertheless he will let down the nets at the Lord’s word. When he does they miraculously catch more fish than the net can bear, and even two boats begin to sink under the weight of them.

It is at this point that we are given a glimpse of Simon-Peter’s moment of clarity. Astonished by the catch of fish, he “fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am sinful man, Lord!” With these words, Peter confesses, not only that he has been struck suddenly and vividly by the reality of who he is (a sinner), but that he has also been struck, suddenly and vividly by the holiness of Jesus. Realizing the truth of the situation, what else can he say, but, get away from me before I defile you? Yet as soon as he hears Jesus say, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men”, as soon as he hears this blessed invitation to follow the Lord, he abandons everything. If Jesus, the one who brings moments of clarity, the one by whom Peter may plot the course of his whole life, is leaving, then the ship might as well be sinking, and all the fish rotting. Peter is possessed by an intense desire to follow through and change everything in his life.

We too have to be mindful that a moment of clarity about our true state is really a moment of grace, a theophany, a moment when the lost one is being found. The blessed awareness of our sin means that a light has been switched on, and the beauty of the Gospel is that a path forward is always opened along with that awareness, an invitation to follow.

Indeed the Lord is seeking those like Peter. Those who, as Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia once described the Apostle Peter, are not infallible, but, rather, true. He is seeking those who are real, those who are genuine. The broken-hearted and contrite who, in a moment of clarity, feel that perhaps there is no hope of redemption can be assured that the Lord is present to lead them to new life.

May the Lord help us not to shy away from these moments, but rather to ask Him to bless us with them more and more. And when we experience them, let us cherish them. For, as Father Joshua writes: “These moments of clarity, of insight and realizations about ourselves and our life, are revelations indeed. When they appear, we must grab hold of them; as the one whose survival depends on starting a fire cradles and protects the ember he finally succeeds in creating, so we must eagerly grab hold of and protect that moment of clarity so that it may not be lost.”