Recently I had the opportunity to share about my hero of Faith from the Bible for the wonderful Worship Clan and after going back and forth about picking a favourite, my mind fixated on Peter.
If you don’t know much about Peter, then here’s a quick sum-up: Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. Arguably he was the loudest. He had commentary for nearly everything (necessary or not). Oh, he’s also the one who walked on water.
But today you should know that Peter, who Jesus trusted greatly, experienced a massive blow to his ego through a pretty huge fail on his part.
Jesus predicts this failure and even tells Peter about it before it happens, basically saying, “hey, at the time when it’s going to matter the most, you are going to pretend you don’t know me; not just once, but three times.”
Peter adamantly refuses this claim but goes on to do just that when Jesus gets arrested: he claims he doesn’t know him because he’s afraid of the consequences that would come from association with the so-called Messiah.
Can you imagine being in his sandals?
Being so hardcore about this rabbi you’ve been following for years but, at the moment where it matters most, you pretend you can’t pick him in order to save your own skin.
I can’t begin to imagine the amount of shame and guilt piled on Peter’s shoulders – how looming and oppressive the feeling of failure had to be for him.
I’ve felt the feelings of failure on big and small scales throughout my life.
I’ve noticed that when I feel like a failure, everything else around me suffers. I can’t focus. I can’t be present. I can’t give my best to people. I curl up on bed and declare that the day has been cancelled and wallow. A sense of shame swallows me up and I feel helpless to remove it.
Nothing can make me feel more faithless than the perceived sense of failure.
There’s a story later in the text about how, after the death of Jesus, Peter is out fishing with his boys when he sees that same Jesus standing on the beach as if he never suffered, never went to the cross, never has his body laid to rest in a tomb.
And Peter absolutely loses it. He goes cray. I love that scene. He’s ripping off his clothes and basically pulling a Tom Cruise 2005 moment on Oprah’s couch (google it) in his boat, hurling himself into the water to get to Jesus.
I mean, this man’s faith was still so great! I can’t say I would have reacted the same way. I’d probably be so stuck in my head, thinking of all the ways I let Jesus down, that I would be hoping I could shrink into the bottom of the boat and never be seen again.
But not Peter.
Peter goes after God, even when his failure feels weighty and raw.
In pure Jesus-fashion, Jesus welcomes the guys onto the beach and has a fire going as he cooks them breakfast. Following the brunch, Jesus recommissions Peter.
It means ‘committing to trust someone and give them authority.’
Let’s be clear: Jesus could have chosen to hold Peter’s failure against him. He had every right to choose someone else for the big missions, someone who would at least pretend to know him. This act of giving Peter power is the ultimate proof to me that my feelings of failure & faithlessness are never a reflection of how faithful God will be towards me.
This is such a beautiful moment of Jesus acting out forgiveness towards Peter. But I cannot help but think what would have happened for the early church if Peter, forgiven for his failure, never forgave himself and stayed stuck in an old mindset.
So often, we already have forgiveness but we act like we aren’t free. We live like shame is still our anthem, like we don’t deserve to walk around this world in victory.
Jesus goes on to ask Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
All three times, Peter tells him yes.
After each reply, Jesus gives Peter a command, “feed my sheep.”
That was the new mission. That was the new purpose. That was the new reason for waking up every morning. God used Simon Peter’s failure as a catalyst to propel him towards greater faith and greater purpose.
Won’t God do the same for you?
It is a daily discipline to see your feelings but invest in a bigger story anyway. You have to stop focusing on all the accidents from the past and decide that you, yourself, are not an accident and it matters that you’re still here. There is good work to be done. The fight is not over. Keep pressing on.
If we allow them to, our feelings will keep us stuck in our own head. They will immobilize us. They will taunt us. They will keep us from the sacred moments God has for us today.
So what if we decide to get up, get dressed, and go “feed the sheep”?
What will that look like?
What if we decide to exit our minds for a little while and, instead, decide to bless others extravagantly?
I think the results could be beautiful.
I think the world needs less people who are stuck in their own heads.
I think you and I have a job to do and our feelings are just resistance, keeping us from pursuing the main thing with the fullest of hearts.
It’s Monday: let’s make the main thing the main thing for the sake of those who need us to show up today. Let’s get out there, feel the fear, but decide to do it anyway. Someone needs you to show up and be great today.