Will God Forgive Me?
"And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly." Luke 22:62 (NLT)
We waited on the front porch. Moonlight filtered through the trees as tires crunched over the gravel driveway. When he stepped from the car, we rose. He saw us and hung his head.
He had come to live with us because he needed a safe place. That night he was supposed to be home at a certain time. Hours had passed beyond that curfew, and worry had led us to wait in the cool night air.
We said we’d talk in the morning.
The next day I walked into the living room and he sat on the carpet, head in his hands, rocking back and forth.
"Do I still get to stay here?" he asked.
Surely, he knew we wouldn’t reject him.
Except he didn’t know. Nothing in his former experiences led him to that belief. He expected punishment, perhaps not physical, but at the minimum he thought he was no longer welcome.
My husband and I knelt beside him. We placed our arms around him and began to pray.
Years have passed since then. Today that beautiful young man is a dad. A loving husband. A pastor and a strong man of faith.
In the New Testament, we encounter another man who worried if he’d be forgiven: Peter, a man who loved Jesus with his whole being. Yet, in Luke 22, on the night Jesus was turned over to the authorities, Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter fled the scene weeping bitterly. Angst and grief were his companions.
Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there.
Later we find Jesus talking with Peter on the shore (John 21:17). In the brief conversation, Jesus reminds Peter of who he is.
And Whose He is.
Yes, Peter made a big mistake. One that seems impossible to overcome, but Jesus sees beyond the mistake to the heart.
Over time, Peter became a teacher and speaker, leading crowds to Jesus (Acts 2:14-36) and watching as miracles unfold. He authored 1 and 2 Peter, two books of the Bible that have influenced millions around the world and across generations.
After his failure, Peter could have rejected Jesus one more time by refusing His love. He could have ignored the words Jesus spoke and allowed failure to define him forever.
Instead, He accepted that His Savior forgives a repentant heart. That Jesus loved Him still.
Maybe you failed and you failed BIG. Your greatest regret is feeling you let Jesus down, and it’s the last thing you ever wanted to do.
In this crossroad moment, you have a choice.
You can let shame keep you stuck.
Or, you can lean into Jesus’ love for you.
Maybe you have amends to make. With His help, make them.
Maybe getting up seems hard because condemnation weighs so heavy. Release that burden. One day you’ll look back at this pivotal moment and realize getting up led you right back into the arms of Jesus.
Maybe your former experiences have led you to believe failure equals rejection. That when you fall, you’ve blown it and there’s no way back. Except that’s not truth. This is:
God will finish the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6).
His response to your repentant heart is forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Your Heavenly Father transforms you as you accept that gift (2 Peter 1:3).
The young man who once lived with us grew through his mistakes. That incident wasn’t the first or the greatest challenge we walked through together, but every time he leaned into love rather than running away from it, he stood stronger.
Until one day he knew who he was.
And Whose he was.
Your God still loves you. His plan has not been erased because of your mistake. In this crossroad, run toward His open arms and begin anew.
Dear Jesus, though I want to hide from You, help me to reach for Your love and forgiveness. Teach me through this, and let it grow me. Thank You that I have a future because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Acts 3:6-8, "Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God." (NIV)
If you’ve ever wrestled with trying to forgive someone, or know someone who’s experienced traumatizing abuse, injustice, neglect or abandonment, you might appreciate Suzie Eller’s book, The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.
Visit Suzie’s blog for more of her story and to discover 5 ways to grow through failure.
Would you like to bring Suzie to your church? Click here to learn more about featuring Suzie as your next retreat / keynote speaker.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Instead of running from your mistake, change your viewpoint as you look for ways to grow through it.
What is one thing you can you learn from it? What did you hope might happen, and what actually took place? What might you do differently next time?