Monday, January 2, 2017

Nothing Wasted, 3: Past Problems

"The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep...'" (John 21:17).

Peter's hurt was palpable. Any of the disciples within earshot could feel the discomfort of the risen Savior asking Peter repeatedly "Do you love me?" Yes, the words for love that Jesus used were more than one word, but the fact that He was asking a similar question different ways and more than one time was more proof to Peter that he had failed. Peter, the one with the big heart, but an even bigger mouth, loudly proclaimed his undying devotion and a refusal to ever deny Jesus. The volume of his shout was overshadowed by the volume of what he lived out. He denied Jesus not once, but three times, just as Jesus said he would. His denials weren't purposed, but reactive. In that moment, he allowed his fear to overcome his faith. Three times he denied Jesus, and three times Jesus asked him about his loving Him "more than these." 

Peter's hurt may have been because he felt as though his past was being brought up as a disqualifier for any future partnership. It would have been justified. His hurt represented the idea that his intentions had not been enough to carry him through to action, or that had he stepped up and defended the Messiah instead of denying, maybe none of this would have ever happened. Jesus spoke to Peter not in correction, but in restoration. Peter had learned a lesson of discipline in ways no one else could have forced. Jesus spoke redemption of soul, but also of purpose. "Feed my sheep." Peter's past, unless he hung on to it, would not be the determining factor on his future. God would use the failure, wash it in forgiveness, and empower it with faith. In this moment, there was nothing wasted.

It doesn't take me much to look back and see the many more than few times I have let God down in some way. Mark Twain once said of New Years' Resolutions, "Go ahead and make them today, and tomorrow begin paving the way to hell with them." I have had many good intentions that have compromised my integrity, because those intentions lacked the follow through. Failure to follow through can easily bring about feelings of personal failure, regret, and far too many moments of playing in my mind what I should have done and didn't. But I will not allow the enemy to rob me of the lessons I can learn through my personal failures and use them against me. My denials of Jesus through words I've used, thoughts I've entertained, times I've gone back on something I've said, or ways I've reacted out of an emotional response, will either be used as character destroyers or character developers. It all depends upon my choice in how I respond. 

I know that I am called and purposed of God. I believe in the restorative power of God to take what I've messed up and transform it into an opportunity I never could've deserved. I will surrender every failure, every regret, and every missed opportunity to Him who is able to turn it around for my good and for the influencing of many lives. I know that God is not through using me, and I know that He is using that message in and through me to influence others who struggle believing that they've wasted their only chance in failure. I want to be an example of how God can turn it around. He's not finished, because in Him, nothing is wasted.

Lord Jesus, You are the great redeemer, rebuilder, and restorer. I love You and I know that I am loved by You. Despite the many times I have failed You, You have picked me up, dusted me off, and placed me again on the path You have for me. Forgive me for the times I have held on to the pain of disappointment. Help me to know how to release it, let it go, and not take it back up again. I know that there is no good thing in trying to fix something You have called me to give over. So, I give You my past. I give You my mistakes. I give You my disappointments in myself. I will not hold onto them. I will not allow the enemy of my mind to replay what I have released. Help me to know that the enemy is defeated and that I do not have to be influenced by he who is under my feet. I thank You for Your restoration work in my life. I am saved, but I am a work in progress, because I have been purposed by the Creator. I thank You. Give me the strength to live this out in the everyday, so that my life can be used as a "nothing wasted" testimony to others of who You are, what You've done, and all that You can do in and through them. I pray this ALL in JESUS' NAME. Amen.

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