[Today’s devotion on dealing with failure is part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for additional insights from God’s Word to jumpstart your week.]
Read: John 21:15-19
Today’s Scripture: 22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Whenever my sister’s dog is around and I walk into the room, she grabs the nearest toy and brings it to me. This is how she greets me, always excited to play. She gets so excited to play that she sometimes tries to grab two toys.
She’s a little dog with a little mouth. Two large toys simply aren’t going to fit. She may want the second toy more, but because she won’t let go of the first toy, it hinders her ability to use the second.
This is a lighthearted illustration for what is a bit more of a serious topic. There are things in our lives that we often have a hard time letting go of, and because we don’t let go of those things, they can hinder our ability to accomplish the next thing God wants for us.
The things that hold us back can be almost anything, but I want to direct our attention today to these two: past events and past failures.
For Peter, his denial of Christ must have felt like a source of shame. We don’t get a whole lot of insight into his thought process after the event, but we do know that he “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62) when his gaze connected with Jesus’ after the rooster crowed. He had proclaimed so valiantly that he was willing to die for Jesus (v. 33) but later denied even knowing him. I wonder if he felt disqualified from his calling as a disciple.
This failure hung over him so much that when Jesus was resurrected and met with him, Peter had a difficult time loving Him to the fullest. For those unfamiliar with the Greek in the text of John 21, our English vocabulary doesn’t fully express what’s really going on here. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, he’s using the word “agapaó” for “love,” denoting the kind of deep love that God has for His people. The kind of love that led Jesus to the cross for us. Peter, in turn, says that of course he loves Him, but uses the word “phileó,” which is more of a brotherly affection kind of love. It wasn’t the same kind of love. He likely felt that he had let Jesus down, and thus had a hard time expressing his full love for his Savior.
It’s easy for us to let the weight of our past experiences and past failures hinder our love for God, for others, and for ourselves. We may even feel disqualified from the calling that God has for us. But being disqualified didn’t end up being Peter’s story, and it doesn’t have to be yours, and it doesn’t have to be mine.
Despite his shortcomings, Jesus still loved Peter, and He still had a purpose for him. Peter was to take care of God’s people, and we get to follow up on his incredible escapades in the book of Acts.
Your past doesn’t disqualify you from the future God has for you. There are times when you might fail or falter, but we know that “[God’s mercies] are new every morning”(Lamentations 3:23). His forgiveness is readily available. His calling is still accessible. If you fall today, tomorrow’s a new day. It’s another chance to try again, another chance to serve God to the fullest.
God’s not the one saying you’re not good enough or holding your past experiences against you. He’s the One who’s called you. It’s time to let go of those things that are holding you back and start fresh. Today’s a new day.
Today’s Thoughts: Is there a past experience that is holding you back from being your best? What might happen if you remembered that “God’s mercies are new every morning” and saw today as a fresh start?