Jesus answered [Peter], "Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times."
We have the best of intentions. Most of the time, we are all doing about the best we can, but all of us have such limited insight. Sometimes we don't have all of the resources we need. Often we lack emotional nourishment.
If we had more conscious awareness of what makes us tick, more information and alternatives available to us, different life experiences and more love, support, and encouragement, we could do better. But we can fail so miserably.
Peter failed. He didn't live up to his intentions. He didn't stand up for his friend like he thought he would. He got in over his head. He was in a situation he was not prepared for. He didn't understand what was happening or why. He felt utterly vulnerable and afraid.
He was alone, his primary source of strength arrested, bound and threatened. The bottom fell out. He did what he thought he needed to do to survive. Then he realized what he had done and, as we all know, you can't undo the past.
Peter kept living with it long enough to realize and accept forgiveness. He got other chances to live up to his best intentions. He became "the Rock" on which Jesus would establish his church. Eventually, he was able to move past his inexperience and fear and live into the person he was meant to be.
His failure affected him but did not define him. He eventually laid down his life for Jesus, according to legend. In the end, he lived up to his promises, but not that day.
Faced with defeat, we often want to give up and sink into despair. But God does not give up on us when we fail; there is always forgiveness, there is always tomorrow when God will again work with us to fulfill God's will.
I am doing the best I can, O God. Give me the confidence and faith to do well; and when I fail, the hope to accept your unqualified forgiveness, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Copyright ©2007 Lowell Grisham.