I published this essay in my book, "Lessons Along the Journey."
If anyone had reason to count himself unforgivable, unredeemable, and useless to God’s community, it was the apostle Peter.
And it’s no wonder. The fisherman-turned-disciple had lived with Christ for three years. He enjoyed an intimacy with the Master known only to two others of the twelve disciples – James and John. Peter conversed for hours with the Lord. He ate with Him, watched Him walk on water, raise the dead, heal paralytics, and feed thousands with only a few fish and some bread.
Then things took a sharp turn. In Gethsemane, while the Lord agonized in prayer, Peter fell asleep. When soldiers dragged Christ before the civil and religious authorities, Peter cowered and swore – three times – “I don't know the man."
Had that been me, I don’t think I could have recovered from the memory of that night. My neglect and thrice-denial would echo in my mind like rocks bouncing against cavern walls on their way to a dark and unsearchable bottom.
Yet, the more I think about Peter's fall, the greater comfort I find – not because of his failure, but because of his reconciliation. Peter’s reconciliation holds the key for all of us who repeatedly stumble along our journey and wonder if we can get up again – or even if we should get up again.
What would the Church look like today if Peter, overwhelmed by his shame, returned the Kingdom’s keys to Jesus (Matthew 16:18-19) and slipped into the shadows of history? How much less would we understand God’s grace without Peter’s two epistles? How many are in heaven today because Peter discovered, as all of us – believer and non-believer – must discover: God is the God of
And yet another.
Scripture promises: “As the heavens tower over the earth, so God's love towers over the faithful. As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on the faithful. For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:11-14).
Satan – the Lord Jesus called him the Father of Lies – wants us to believe there’s no pardon for repeat offenders. If the devil can convince us of that lie, we lose a crucial battle. We get sidelined, lost in the shadows, and unable to help set free other prisoners from spiritual bondage.
But God repeatedly assures us of abundant pressed-down-and-running-over pardon in Christ. Each time we come to the Father in repentance, we find another chance to stand with our Savior. When all the theologies, philosophies, and ideologies melt away, God’s forgiveness and mercy are why we can get up and start again. His matchless and enduring love for us, despite our failures and sins, is the reason we should get up and start again.
"There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins," an 18th century hymn written by William Cowper reminds us. "And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
Why would anyone not approach the God of Another Chance for –