December 8, 2017
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV)
I sat on my back porch, wrapped in my fuzzy worn robe — the one that’s 20 years old, but I just can’t seem to get rid of.
The birch tree leaves shivered in the cool morning crispness, and the gerbera daisies stretched their faces to the sun … just a bit higher than the day before.
Then I heard him. The rooster.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I’m not sure where he lives, but it’s within earshot.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I thought of Peter. I thought of me. I thought of you.
Maybe you know the story found in Luke 22:31-34. At the dinner table, on the night before Jesus went to the cross, He had a chat with his friend Peter. He referred to Peter by his pre-disciple-days name: Simon.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But Peter replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
If I were Jesus, I would’ve thought … Sure you are, buddy.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me’” (Luke 22:34, NIV).
A few hours later, Peter did just that. Denied he even knew Jesus. Three times. And then the rooster crowed. ER-er-ER-er ERRRR.
And Peter went outside and cried and cried and cried.
The next morning, the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered his failure.
And the next, and the next and the next. With every cock-a-doodle-doo came a fresh reminder. First thing in the morning.
I’ve been there. Have you? I have failed. I have cried and cried and cried. And I have remembered.
Shame has poked drain holes in my Spirit-filled confidence, and I have hidden behind the wall with Peter … behind the bush with Eve. And even though I asked God to forgive me, the rooster still crowed in my heart … and I remembered my failure all over again. Like a trapeze artist who takes hold of the second bar, but refuses to let go of the first, I have hung — dangling over “life to the full.” And God calls to me … Let go. Move forward. Live bold. It’s the only way.
Paul tells me what to do … “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me ... Forgetting what lies behind and reaching for what lies ahead …” (Philippians 3:12b,13b).
And I see it clearly. For me and for you.
When we finally grasp all that Jesus has done for us and placed in us, we begin to experience life to the full — the faith we’ve always longed for. But taking hold is not enough. We’ve got to let go.
Let go of shame-filled ponderings and take hold of grace-filled pardon.
Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.
Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.
Let go of preoccupation with self-doubt and take hold of God’s power-filled promises.
Let go of comparison and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.
Let go of the lies holding you hostage and take hold of truth that sets you free.
God has placed lavish promises in the safety deposit box of my heart and fashioned a cross-shaped key just for me … just for you. Letting go of shame and taking hold of grace is where it all begins.
What did Jesus have to say about Peter’s failure? Three strikes, you’re out? Hardly.
After His resurrection, Jesus pulled Peter aside and asked him three times … one for each denial … “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” then “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15b).
Jesus removed the shroud of shame hanging from Peter’s guilt-weary shoulders, and called him to return to the ministry he’d begun. He does the same for me and you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving me when I fail you. Help me not to feel guilty over something You’ve already forgiven. Help me not to listen to the devil’s accusations, but to the Holy Spirit’s whispers of grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NASB)
Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)
Today’s devotion is adapted from Sharon Jaynes’ book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. If you’re ready to let go of all that holds you hostage to a life that’s less than God has for you and live bold in the adventurous faith that God has planned for you, this is the book for you.
Click over to Sharon’s blog to receive a FREE download for her journal with coloring pages, based on eight powerful verses from Take Hold of the Faith You Long For.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When the devil brings up one of your failings, do you think of your guilt or God’s grace? Which do you think God thinks of?
What’s one thing you need to let go of and take hold of today? Leave a comment, and we’ll randomly pick one entry to win a FREE signed copy of Sharon’s book.
© 2017 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 08 December 2017.