When I was two I made the mistake of taking a casual stroll on the playground. I know that sounds harmless, but my wandering walk placed me on a collision course with a child gliding on the wooden seat of a swing set. Our paths collided. The impact was a rude awakening to Newton's laws of motion. I was a bloody mess, and the scar on my forehead is still visible almost fifty years later. Bodily scars may eventually disappear, but emotional scars really last. Feelings of rejection pummel our memories. Mistakes brand our conscience. Cutting remarks uttered long ago leave gaping wounds that remain tender to the touch. Our outward appearance belies our inward ache. We live with the scars others do not see--the scars of a shattered past.
Peter lived with scars. He had heard the rooster crow. He had denied Jesus. He had failed! The scar was big. It was ugly. Could it ever go away? It could and it would when Peter understood just how much Jesus loved him.
After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. Once more he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NLT)
The ugly scar of failure branded Peter's conscience until Jesus, the great plastic surgeon of the soul, made it disappear. Jesus forgave Peter and reenlisted him as a shepherd of his sheep.
Peter’s experience encourages me. It teaches me God will forgive my failures. Even scars of a shattered past can disappear when I realize that the One who matters the most loves me, forgives me, and reenlists me in his service.
FOCAL POINT: Are you living with the scar of a past failure? Confess it! Then thank God for his love, his forgiveness, and for his willingness to reenlist you in his service.