A couple of years ago, I remember sitting down to write this post, but something strange happened. What started out to be a post of victory, turned into a post of how Jesus is not done. Let me tell you about it.
I started with the intention of writing about a story of victory. However, I was deeply inspired by a friend of mine who was brave enough to share a personal story of a missed opportunity. It’s easy to tell people about the times you have been bold, courageous and victorious. It’s a little more difficult to share about those times that we shrink back and let fear win. I think King David probably enjoyed telling people much more about slaying Goliath than falling into temptation with Bathsheba. The apostle Peter would probably prefer telling people about raising a girl from the dead than denying Jesus three times.
However, those stories are in the Bible for the reason, because they tell us something important about our loving Father in heaven.
I was faced with an opportunity. It was an appointed, God-given opportunity to pray for someone. This person was in need of healing, and I believe firmly that God wanted to give it to her in that moment. The problem is that I didn’t pray for her. There were other people around, and I was worried about what they would think. I looked at the person I was supposed to pray for, and then I looked around at everyone else and saw the potential rejection and frustration that awaited me if I stepped up and prayed.
Ultimately I made the choice to walk out and not pray. I let fear get the better of me and I chose to worry more about what those around me thought than what God thought.
Needless to say, the rest of the night I felt convicted.
I can imagine a little better now how Peter must have felt after he denied Jesus, because I saw it the same way. I denied who I know Jesus to be, and what I know He has called me to do, out of fear of what people would think. This may not sound like a very encouraging story, but I promise it ended up encouraging. Based on how I was feeling, I decided to go read the story of when Peter denied Jesus. I expected to find greater conviction and motivation, but what I found more of was comfort and encouragement. I read that before Peter ever denied Jesus, Jesus not only told Peter that he would deny Him, but Jesus also made it a point to assure Peter that He had already been praying for him. Jesus then took it a step further, and said to Peter:
“And WHEN you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” – Luke 22:31
It overwhelmed me as I allowed these words from Jesus to bring me comfort and reassurance in my situation. How amazing is it to know that our King is constantly interceding on our behalf, despite our shortcomings and our failures? Before we even fall, He is already praying for us and encouraging us. The voice I sometimes hear sounds like, “I can’t believe that you just fell. How are you ever going to get back up after that? You might as well just stay down.” But that is not the voice of our Jesus. Not our beloved King.
He is right there saying to us, “I already knew this would happen, and I died for you anyway.
I also know your future, I know that you will get back up, and this moment will only serve as an encouragement to others. Than that little slip up is not bigger than anything I can handle. I still love you, and I still have a mighty plan and purpose for your life. Just trust me. Get up, and keep moving forward.”
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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 he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” – Luke 22:31-34
Get back up, because Jesus is not done with you!