I am a self appointed perfectionist. I have a tendency to curl up in a ball and go into seclusion if I make a mistake. God has dealt with me on this in great ways but occasionally I slip back into that way of thinking. Anyone else? Failing at something can put me into a state of desperation faster than anything else. Satan whispers that I will never ever be able to serve God if … (fill in the blank!) Although I have learned to combat his lies, there are still times I fall prey to this. It is then God shows me in His Word how he has used others in the midst of their failures. I can think of David! (the Ark and Adultery. ) Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Paul…as a matter of fact, most of those who served God mightily had failure in their lives.
When I think about the apostles, I have always wanted to be like John. The beloved…the one who followed faithfully…the one who was entrusted with the care of Mary…the good one! It was not to be. I took one of those face book tests about “which apostle would you be,” hoping it would come up John, but it came up Peter. I knew it would. Peter and I have so much in common…well except for the fishing…I cannot stand to go fishing with the icky things you have to touch…but I digress. I feel for Peter because I understand Peter and so what can we learn about desperation from Peter?
His desperation came at his own hand. Peter was a person who knew what he wanted, was a great leader and was very outspoken. It was Peter who stated that Jesus was The Christ, but a few verses later scolds Jesus. Peter was a smart guy…the problem was he didn’t know when to stop with his mouth. He so desired Jesus to use him and to love him. I believe he wanted to be the teacher’s pet! Over-achiever extraordinaire!
We see him in the upper room telling Jesus that he would never, ever leave him
Jesus knew Peter. Jesus knew Peter was going to fail. But Jesus also knew that this failure would shape Peter into the person he needed to become. Peter needed to fall flat on his face so Jesus could come again to him and lift him up.
I want us to focus on the words Jesus said: And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Turned back? Those are important words for people like me. It took Peter awhile to turn back because he wanted to run from the situation. He wanted to sulk and go back to fishing because he was not worthy anymore to serve.
Often we hear what we are doing wrong but do not hear what Jesus says will happen. When you turn back. In our failure desperation we have a choice. We can remain in our pity pit or we can turn back. When we turn back we will be equipped to “strengthen the brothers!” Our failures prepare us to help others.
Many have spoken on the walk that Jesus and Peter took before Jesus ascended…do you love me. But let’s fast forward to Acts 2 where Peter stands and preaches and 3,000 turn toward God. Read Acts 4:13…when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained me, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. Failure brought Peter closer to who Jesus could be in his life. It brought boldness because for the first time it wasn’t about him. You see, when we are self-focused we are afraid of failure…when we are God focused we are bold because He is all that matters. Before Peter was all about Peter and what Peter could do and be for God. Now He was all about God and what God could do and be in Peter.
One more thing: strengthen the brothers. Peter remembered those words at some point because he penned I and II Peter to his fellow Christians. I Peter 1:3-7. What better way to encourage and strengthen his fellow workers…and what an encouragement to us. He leaves us with no excuses for not living strongly for the Lord for he says in II Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. When and where did Peter learn these powerful principles? In his turning back from his failure.
Perhaps today you are struggling with some failure. Perhaps you are listening to the whispered lies of the enemy who is saying you will never be used…you are a failure. Jesus knew you would fail before you did! He still loves you just as He loved loud-mouthed Peter. You must answer that one question Jesus has for you, “Do you love me?” If the answer to that is yes, then you too can turn back. Your desperation in failure can be turned back and your failure can be used to strengthen those around you.
Today, turn back.