Do you remember?
To be completely honest with you, I see a lot of myself in Peter. He is very impulsive. He is going to do it, say it, and he would rather ask for forgiveness rather than permission. The same guy that gets out the boat and falls for lack of faith is also the first one bold enough to call Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Peter's highs are really high and his lows are really low. When Jesus begins calling the disciples to follow Him, do you remember how He calls Peter?
Luke 5:4-6, "He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking."
Jesus tells them to go out and fish, but Peter pretty much tells Him, "Hey man, I appreciate you wanting to help, but we didn't catch anything all night. I do this for a living. If you say so though, I'll give it one last try..." Of course we know how the story goes. As the Scripture above says, they ended up catching so many fish that the nets nearly break, and Jesus tells them that from now on they will be fishers of men. Do you remember what happens later in the Gospels, though?
After Jesus is arrested, Peter denies Jesus three times. Peter hears the rooster crow, makes eye contact with Jesus across the courtyard, remembers that Jesus had told him that he would deny Jesus three times even though he promised that he would die before he denied, and Peter runs away weeping bitterly. After Jesus is tried, crucified, and raised, Peter and some of the other disciples decide to go fishing, and when they do, a man shouts to them from the shore.
John 21:4-7, "Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish... When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea."
When Jesus first calls Peter, what happens? Jesus told him to cast his net again even though he hadn't caught anything, and when he did, it filled with so many fish that the net nearly broke. Peter is in a much different place now. He followed Jesus for years, ate with Him, drank with Him, and did life with Him, but he also denied Him. When Jesus calls to the disciples after He has risen, He asks if they caught any fish. When they say that they haven't caught anything, Jesus tells them to cast their net again, and when they do, they can't haul it in because it filled with so many fish, and Peter throws himself into the sea.
John screams, "It is the Lord!" But I believe that Peter knew it was the Lord before John even said anything. Peter had seen this miracle before. The same miracle that Jesus performed to call Peter to first follow Him was the same miracle that Jesus performed to call Peter back to Him. Peter had failed, he denied Jesus three times, but that wasn't where his story ended, and it's not where your story ends.
I've denied Jesus more than three times in my life, but Jesus has never failed to call me back home. When we mess up, God calls us to remember His faithfulness, not our failures. Peter was obviously eager to see Jesus, but there had to be some shame, uneasiness, and possibly fear that Jesus would be upset with him. Jesus didn't reject Peter, He restored him. Where Peter denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him after the resurrection. Grace doesn't count how often you've failed, it pulls you out of your failures and set you back on solid ground.
Your failures are a part of your story, not the point of your story. Jesus chased Peter down, He left the ninety-nine for the one. Even in the worst parts of your story, God is chasing you down saying, "Do you love me? Then stop running. Because my love for you is so strong that I’ll never stop chasing you. No matter how far you run or how hard you try to hide.”
Stop running. Your failures may feel like they run too deep to ever be cleansed, but Jesus' blood has never seen a stain that couldn't be washed cleaned, and that doesn't change starting with you.
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