How many of us are being haunted by the broken pieces of our past? One anonymous writer said: “Let the past should make us better, not bitter”. And he or she was right.
Our past failures could give us invaluable lessons to equip us for the task ahead in the present time, and prepare us to succeed against the challenges that may come in the future.
As the word suggests, past failure is something that has happened behind us, something that is over. And there is nothing we can do in the present to change what has transpired in the past. We can only embrace it and learn from it.
In John 21:15-19, we find an encouraging story of how to leave past failures behind. This is where Jesus had shown to his disciples for the third time after he physically rose from the dead and where the apostle Peter and some other disciples went back to fishing as a time-off and in order to sort things out and reflect personally on the significance of the things that they have been through.
Earlier, we all knew that Peter denied knowing the Lord three times during the Lord’s trial and in His most vulnerable moment. He hears the roster crow and Jesus looked to him in the eyes. And overcome by guilt, he went outside and wept bitterly. And no matter how much he cried, that encounter is forever etched in his mind.
Now imagine the scene on the beach: Jesus sitting on the seashore with a charcoal fire prepared while Peter and the other disciples hauled in 151 big fish towards the shore. It was amazing that despite of the number of fish that they caught their nets were not torn. Then they had breakfast with the Lord.
Imagine what was going on in Peter’s mind: his betrayal of the Lord, not only once but three times, despite of his bravado to stand-by his friend and Master. When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loves Him. But the most important thing that Jesus said to him is this: “Follow me”.
GOD LOOKS OUT FOR ME EVEN THOUGH I MADE A BIG MESS
In spite of our failures, we can be sure that God still looks out for us. Peter denied the Lord three times and yet the Lord came looking out for him. When our kids messed up in their lives, we correct them with love and compassion, help them to make amends, and support them as they move on. God’s love for us is even deeper than what we as human parents can give to our kids. Here, Jesus came to Peter and to some of the disciples not to rebuke them but to spend time with them – and more.
GOD DOES NOT CONVICT ME BY ENUMERATING MY PAST MISTAKES
While eating their breakfast, Jesus did not mention to Peter how many times he has denied knowing the Lord. He wants to remind us that when He forgives, all is forgotten. His grace is sufficient to cover all the mess we have made. Jesus did not condemn Peter by bringing up the subject. Rather He restored Peter by telling him to feed His lambs and to take care of His sheep.
GOD GIVES ME A PURPOSE
When Christ said to Peter, “Follow me”, He gives Peter a purpose. Peter may have been hesitant and may have difficulty understanding these things. After all that he did, it seems God is not finished with him. There’s more to come. God, too, is not finished with us yet. There’s more to come. Peter was a simple fisherman but his ultimate purpose is to become a fisher of men.
Heavenly Father, I am grateful that despite of all my mistakes and shortcomings, you have forgiven me and counted me worthy of your blessings. Sometimes I feel that I am a total failure and a big mess. In your goodness, you did not recall my failures but gave me your amazing grace instead; I almost gave up like Peter, but you healed my soul; instead of condemnation, you gave me restoration. Help me to let go of my past failures so I could move on and focus on the present and prepare for the future to which you have planned for me. This I pray in Jesus name. Amen.