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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

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Twenty years.  That’s how long Mr. Rodeheaver and I have loved each other.  Today is our 17 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more in love.

There were many years where I could not have imagined our marriage being what it is today.  I can say with all honesty and without exaggeration that it is better now than ever before.  This is the result of a faithful God and a faithful husband.

I spent the past week cleaning the house.  School is out – homeschool, that is, where mom is always home but never able to get anything done – and cheer season is over.  Finally, I had time to do all those jobs I never get around to.  Cleaning out drawers, closets and bookshelves, scrubbing floors, baseboards, and walls, and, my personal favorite, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down.

House cleaning is not my favorite job.  There are only two reasons I clean: 1. I can no longer function due to the chaos happening around me 2. My husband told me to.  If it was not for Mr. Rodeheaver’s consistent reminders about doing “my job” I honestly might be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders.”

It is because of my husband’s unwillingness to overlook or ignore sin in my life that I have grown in the areas that are most difficult for me to find success in.  Because he neither fears telling me the truth nor accepts any nonsensical excuses I make that keep me from being better, I have no choice but to grow.  He understands my potential and he accepts nothing less than my best.

Twenty years is a long time to be learning something.  Most would have given up instructing and encouraging me a long time ago.  Love never fails, though.  Tim’s faithfulness to me extends far beyond dinners out and depositing paychecks.  Tim’s faithfulness to me is often found in his consistent correction in the things I figure out how to continuously fail at.  Housecleaning is just one example.  We can also add cooking, planning, spending, and eating, just to name a few.

If I am honest I would have to say I fail a lot in almost every area of my life in some way.  We all do.  Fortunately life is not a competition against anyone besides ourselves.  If I am better today than I was yesterday, that is progress.  It is a reason to celebrate.  It does not mean I won’t regress and fail again tomorrow.  It means I have victory today and I have a faithful voice to correct me again tomorrow, if need be.  I can think of no greater blessing.  Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.

If any one of those elements is missing, I would be hard-pressed to call it faithful love with any amount of confidence.  Things I would call it may be idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  These are what love is not.

Idolatry.  Idolatry worships.  When we make someone an idol, we only encourage and forgive.  Idolatry lacks the ability to instruct and correct appropriately.

Selfishness.  Selfish relationships only do what is best for self – not the other.  They may instruct, encourage, correct, or forgive, but all things are done only in one’s own interests depending on which manipulative action will give them – not the other – the most satisfaction.

Fear.  Fear is not found in true love.  The Bible says,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” One who fears in a relationship will never correct or instruct appropriately.  They may not encourage or forgive, either, depending on what kind of fear they are entertaining.

Resentment.  Resentment is when a person only corrects and instructs but never encourages or forgives.  Resentment is not a characteristic of true love.

Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.  Love is not idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  If I am honest, I would have to say that over the course of our marriage, I have fallen prey to all of these things which are not love at one time or another.  Thankfully, true love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Thankfully, I have a husband who sent this message to me first thing this morning:

text

Love covers a multitude of sins.  We fail but love never does.  Keep loving no matter what else happens.  I will leave you with a few verses from the song we chose as ours in May, 1997 and has been true of our lives:

Better than I was
More than I am
And all of this happened
By taking your hand
And who I am now
Is who I wanted to be
And now that we’re together
I’m stronger than ever, I’m happy and free

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing
Don’t think I can keep it all in
And if you ask me why I’ve changed
All I gotta do is say your sweet name

It’s your love
It just does something to me
It sends a shock right through me
I can’t get enough
And if you wonder
About the spell I’m under
Oh it’s your love

~Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, It’s Your Love, May, 1997

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hill

“Have you done this before?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know the second half is much more forgiving.”

Spoken by a stranger long into mile five of eleven on the bike course, wisdom seized its opportunity to whisper to my stubborn heart in the middle of a hellbent hill mid-race.

I have been showing up for this triathlon on and off between pregnancies for the past eleven years.  I have probably run it six or seven times.  The bike portion is full of steep hills the entire first half and the second half has just a few more killer hills but they are sporadic and more rolling.

This is what my fellow competitor was speaking of.  God was saying something else, though.  In the quiet pain of a rainy morning ride up and down the steep countryside, His Spirit awakened mine to His perfect peace.  The reason is because these words are true of life itself.

The things we have done before – the pain of hardships we have already experienced and gone through make way for grace.  If I have already been down the same road I now find myself on once again, I already know that the middle part is the height of its difficulty.  The middle part – where almost all the dig-deep, heart-ready-to-fail hills are behind and only a few free falls are up ahead – that  is where I am most exhausted.  That is where I am most tempted to give up and give in to every fleshly urge to count it all a cruel, vain loss.  Since I already know I am though the thick of it, I also already know that I am most definitely going to make it.  I already know that this test is half over.  I already know the second part is much more about finding freedom and forgiveness than it is about full out force and feverish duress.  And, because I know all those things, I also know exactly where I am in this race.  I know exactly where I am going.  I know exactly how strong I really am, and I know that being a repeat contender, by very nature, makes me exactly who I am.

The truth is that I would not be here – I would not be back here – if I was not sure-up surrendered and sincerely sold-out to the seriousness and sobriety of my training and the dire importance of my work.

It is often only after repeated high hills and low valleys that we find forgiveness waiting for we who are wounded from the winning.  We find that forgiveness not solely for ourselves, but for the foes who fought us fierce all the way to our finish.  Why?  Because they served a purpose.  That purpose was our proving ground.

If you find yourself climbing heart-failing hills only to finish and find them in front of you again, do not be discouraged.  Instead, remember the kind strangers’ words of encouragement and secret wisdom.  If you have done this before, you know the second half is much more forgiving.

Drive on.

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accident

Following my weekly Walmart adventure, I rounded my children and prepared to depart from the magic land of the rough and tough and extra stuff.  Just as I reach for my keys, I noticed a small container of cake sprinkles the had somehow landed in my purse.  In horror, I sat for several minutes genuinely considering how they may have gotten there.

“Beautiful, angel children,” I called out over the boisterous commotion already resuming inside my still parked vehicle, “Did one of you put these in my purse?”

I showed them the sprinkles.  A simultaneous, “No!” and a couple subsequent, “I didn’ts,” were enough to convince me the fault was not theirs.  Surely they just fell in there after I bought them, right?  They fell out of the bag into my purse…maybe…  They were a dollar twenty-eight, Lori.  You have a gaggle of hyperactive gremlins who just buckled up.  Just go.  

I pulled my keys out and my most annoying conscience started screaming at me.  “You accidentally stole those.  You better go pay for them.”  “I am not going back in there.  I’m not.  NO.”  “Yes you are.  You’re going to pay for those.”  “FINE!!!  I will go dutifully back in and pay for these unfortunate specs of birthday cheer but I am not going to be happy.”  “Yes you are.  This is your fault, not the worker at the register.”

Back into the Walmart wonderland I went to pay again.  My last remaining hope was that no one else would ask if I was expecting during my stay in line.  With that, I thought for a moment about the nature of accidental wrongdoing.

I did not mean to buy five bags full of party flair and then decide I was entitled to free sprinkles for being such a great customer.   I managed to use my frazzled mom superpowers and steal them by absolute accident.

The thing about accidental injuries is that they are most annoying.  I mean who wants to finally load up and go to leave only to be sent directly back to the line of late-making and legal acquisitions?  Not this not-expecting mom of merry-making grocery trips.  Nope.  Not me.  But, this is the price one pays for finding out her fault in a matter in which she failed to realize she was the lead actor.  Still, this misadventure sent me back in more ways than one.

When I was a little girl I remember a lecture I received from my aunt.  I had been dancing around the room and she was my audience of one.  At some point during my routine, I managed to knock her glasses right off her face.  Afterward, I simply kept going, pretending not to notice what my carelessness had done to the one who I should have been most careful of catering to – my only fan, if you will.  This was the singular person I had to pay attention to and be careful of when flailing around aimlessly pretending to know how to dance.

I chose instead to offend her by my carelessness and then pretend I did not realize what I had done.  Accident or no accident, I was wrong.  I was being a total brat and she knew it.  The truth was I just wanted to see what she would do.  She was very strict with her kids and my mom was not.  I was used to getting away with my bad behavior and I was testing her.  So, she sat me down and she asked me, “Do you know what you just did?”  I looked at her blankly hoping she didn’t know what I just did.  “What?”  “You knocked my glasses off.  Did you do it on purpose? Or was it an accident?”  “Accident.”  “Well, when something is an accident, you say you’re sorry.”  “Sorry.”  She continued to lecture me for what felt like three days but what I am sure was at least a full five minutes on what a real apology looked, felt, and sounded like.  I deserved it and she was right.  When something is truly an accident – an unintentional injury or offense – there is a genuineness about the attitude and the apology to follow.

When I reentered the supermarket, my grumbling was only over my own stupidity in accidentally stealing a one dollar item.  My grumbling was not about how small the item was and how easily it fell into my purse.  It wasn’t about how distracting my kids were or how discouraged the, “Are you expecting again?” comments made this two-workout a day mom feel.  It was my careless fault and none of my excuses for it would hold up had I actually been caught stealing.  The truth is that even when fault is accidental it is our job to make it right no matter what the personal cost.

I would never slam my little girl’s fingers in the door purposefully.  I might do it accidentally, though.  If that ever happened, my grief and my love toward her in her pain at my fault would be much more obvious and extravagant than her cries of comfort-seeking.  The reason is because I love her and I would likely hurt even more than she did if I unintentionally caused such a painful injury to one of my own.  What if I did it again the next week, after she was already black and blue?  How much worse would I feel?  How much more would I seek to comfort?  Much, much more.  Love hurts for the other when it accidentally injures.  There is no room for rolling eyes and flippant “sorrys” when love seeks forgiveness.

If we injure unintentionally, we are responsible to make amends.  If its truly an accident, we say we’re sorry in an appropriate way with an affectionate attitude for wrong done.  If we don’t, that accident is rightly reclassified as purposeful.  Ask the police.  Ask my aunt.  Ask my kids.  The proof is often found in the apology.

My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. ~1 Corinthians 4:4

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unhappy-valentine-s-day-t-shirts

We’re having a party!  You’re invited!  Come!  It’s all about love.  Bring your empty box!  Decorate it pretty so we can share love notes with you!

Valentine’s Day never seemed so exciting.  We shopped and we crafted.  We wrote out love notes and we waited in happy expectation.  But somehow, somewhere between Mommy’s phone ringing, baby’s fall breaking, and passing out our love notes to one another, something went terribly wrong.

My 3 older kids were alone in the party room.  I was standing just outside talking about my own desperate need for prayer.  Something happened that I did not witness personally.

Enter: Irate mom.  Irate mom interrupted my tears brimming, baby rocking, broken heart on my sleeve conversation by yelling at me about how terrible my children are and how her precious snowflake was crying because of my monsters.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.  I apologized.  I asked what had happened.  I made them apologize.  I explained to both mom and daughter that it seems my girls may have just wanted to be her friend and didn’t know how to introduce themselves appropriately. My girls sat crying for a long time while their accuser showed no evidence of any personal pain.

When we came home we talked about the love gone wrong party.  I do not presume to know exactly what actually happened.  What I do know very well is my own children.  I know exactly who they are and who they are not.  They sin just like me.  They hurt just like me.  They love just like me.  And they tell me the truth when it really matters.

So what happens when a bully calls you a bully and cries fake tears to get you in trouble?  What happens when that bully has an authority (bully mom) who does the same?  When bully mom singles you out and yells in your pint size face in full view of all your friends?  When bully mom goes on a tirade among all the other authorities yelling about how despicable you and best friend (sister) really are?  What happens then?

Well.  You stand by your apology.  Perhaps you did cause some small injury unintentionally.  Perhaps you did.  And then you sit back and you realize that sincere apologies do not matter to bullies.  You realize that forgiveness will never be extended no matter what you say or do because the animosity is not coming from a place of honest offense.  It is coming from a place of hatred and jealousy; malice and deceit; pride and envy.

 Then you cry.  You sit at the party you so looked forward to and you cry about how you’ve been treated.  You take quite some time to listen to the one who loves you most when she says it is going to be OK because her love never depended on your behavior.  You finally get the courage to wipe your tears and go back to playing with the other kids but when the day is done you go home and you appeal to the one who loves you again.  You realize that there is no place for the likes of you at the next love party because you have learned that there is no love at those kind of parties after all.  You wait, hoping love comes back and loves you, apologizes to you, sits next to you, embraces you, and rights the wrongs it did, or, at the very least, shows you how you have wronged it.

You realize that the truth is, love does.  Love will.  Love reconciles.  Love forgives.  Love lives on after our preferences, our pettiness, and all our imperfections.  Love does and will do all of those things and so, so much more if it is, indeed, love after all.  If not, well, then I need to be more wise and discerning the next time I’m invited to a party labeled “love” to that fact that it may have nothing whatsoever to do with what I know love actually is all about.  I have no interest in fake love parties.  Those aren’t for me and they certainly aren’t for my children.

Love is not something we can celebrate if we are looking for a self-centered pity party over our every whim and want.  Love is messy, painful, sacrificial, and other-serving.  You cannot accuse, fail to forgive, hold in contempt, and wait with binoculars and your detective hat for the next offense just hold onto the upper hand; the control; the selfish benefits of being the boss without the selfless service of being the leader.

Everyone likes to be invited.  Everyone wants to celebrate love because love is the greatest of all things we have been given on the entire earth.  But we cannot invite others to love parties that do not both display and convey true love accurately and appropriately.  If we do, we should not wonder why they won’t ever come back once they figure out how this thing works.  You can’t bait and switch and expect the bait to keep fooling the fish.  Our Lord only gave us two commands.  Two.

1. Love ME (God)

2.Love each other

If we cannot do that, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to share, and nothing worth inviting anyone to come and be a part of.

And you know, God has his ways.  He always shows up just when we need Him most.  It just so happened that we were invited to anther love party.  It was last minute and unexpected.  It was hosted by one who had nothing prepared save her heart.  She wanted to love.  She sought to serve.  She gave the little she had to me and my daughters freely without even knowing how hurt we’d been by the last party labeled “love.”  What grace He gives in our time of need.  What a good, good God we serve.

With that, I leave you the words of a wild thing and a king:

” Judith: Psst. Psst. (signals for Max to come over)  What were you doing with Carol just now?

Max: Just talking.

Judith: Oh, a secret, huh?  Let me ask you something.  How does it work around here?  Are we all the same or are some of us better than others or – ?  You like to play favorites, huh, king?

Max: No, I like all you guys equally.

Judith: Don’t give me that.  I can see how it is.  The king has favorites.  That’s really cute.  Do you have a favorite color?  Hey, can I be your favorite color? (laughs)

Max: (imitates her laugh)

Judith: (does it back)

Max: (does it again, with more effort)

Judith: Ahahahaha

Max: Har har har!

Judith: Ahahahahahaha

Max: HAR HAR HAR

Judith: You know what? You can’t do that back to me.  If we’re upset, your job is not to get upset back at us.  Our job is to be upset.  If I get mad and want eat you, then you have to say, “Oh, okay, you can eat me.  I love you.  Whatever makes you happy, Judith.”  That’s what you’re supposed to do!”

~Where the Wild Things Are, 2009, Jonze and Dave Eggers

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son

“Mom, why do we have lips?” asks my oddly inquisitive eleven year old.

“I don’t know. I guess God thought we needed them.”

“But why do we have them?  What are they for?”

“Appearance?  Well, actually they are for kisses.”

Cue awkward face of preteen disgust.  Moms do not talk about kissing.  Moms especially do not talk about kissing when said preteen was clearly asking a purely scientific question and attempting to formulate a very serious hypothesis based upon nothing less than observation and factual information.

But that’s my oldest daughter.  My youngest daughter has different ideas about both lips and kissing.  One year-olds love kisses.  Well, at least mine does…usually.

When I say, “kisses,” she leans her head towards me and waits for my kiss to be planted on the back of her head.  We are still working on the lips part.

Generally, Little Miss Congeniality loves kisses.  The only problem is that she turns her face away from me when I ask for them.  She only knows how to receive kisses.  She hasn’t mastered the art of giving them.

I try to teach her each day.  She is at the point where if I say, “kisses,” and I don’t plant one on the back of her turned head, she looks at me and sticks out her tongue.  “No, Sonny.  Not tongue; lips.”

It is an arduous process wherein her tongue stays out and I resort to raspberries all over her face because tongues are not easily put back away and the cuteness of one year-olds does not allow for any option wherein they do not get kissed regardless of their slowness or complete failure to learn proper methods and techniques.

We usually move on to blowing kisses once the emergent tongue enters the lesson.  She thinks it’s funny to watch me blow kisses but she hasn’t reciprocated yet.  Don’t worry, there will be a two hour video once this milestone is mastered and I am almost certain it will go viral.  I know you can’t wait either.

Babies are easy to love.  Babies are hard to love.  Children are easy to love.  Children are hard to love.  Just like kisses are more easily accepted than they are given by my baby, we children of God often need to be given repeated daily examples of love from our Father before we even begin to learn how to give love back.  We must feel loved and be shown how to give and receive love before we even begin to figure out that it isn’t about turning our head as much as it is about being face to mad about you face.   Finally, we realize it isn’t about turning our head at all.  It is about turning toward the other every time, and never, ever turning away from the ones we love.

We need so very much to be loved, to be shown love, to be adored by one who adores before we can even begin to learn how it is that we can possibly get Mister Slimy Slobber inserted back where he belongs and plant our very own puckered presents upon the proper people.

Learning how to love well does not boil down to a science lesson.  Learning how to love well does not emerge from a self-preserving, safe-staying cocoon of systematic daily lessons on proper lip mechanics.  (Although that may well be additionally necessary when delving into what comes forth from those sneaky pink gates.  In that case, just use emergency mom language: “Zip it, child.”)  No.  Learning how to love well results from being loved well.  It is not something we teach.  It is something we do.

Learning how to love well results from being loved well.  It is not something we teach.  It is something we do.

Brothers, sisters, consider your children.  Think about your babies – the ones you have been so graciously given; the ones you long to be given; the ones who were and are and will be.  Close your eyes and appraise their faces.  Reflect upon your deep, deep love for them, wherever they may be today.

Are you there?  Do you have their picture in your mind?

Now, open your eyes.  That is how God sees you.  That is how your Father loves you.  Go.  Love that much, always.  We are all but children in need of love and grace.

From one sister to all her siblings, please give grace.  I need grace.  We need grace.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  So, here are my hugs; kisses; love.  How I long to embrace you and let my tears fall upon your shoulder!  Written words are my heart on paper saying what my lips never seem to get out quite right. Happy St. Valentine’s Day.  There is much love in my heart for you all.

xoxoxo

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lives

Lives matter.  Isn’t that what all the hullabaloo is about these days?  Really?  In the year 2016 humans are still having to be told that life matters.  Is the agenda simply concerned with schooling us on which lives really matter most?  Or are the lives that everyone that is shouting about lives that are largely devalued by the majority?  And why does it seem like there is an elephant named stereotyping standing in every room full of fighters?

It started with “black lives matter.”  No doubt they certainly do.  Some take the statement of this obvious truth to imply that the rest of lives – those that belong to we who are not black – matter less.  Hence, the hashtag “all lives matter.”  Or what about the people group indicted by the “black lives matter” community?  As Chick-fil-A contends, “police lives matter,” too.  It has become a war about which lives are paramount.  And where there’s a war, there are no winners.  There are only  bleeders.

All the buzz, forgive me, has me a bit confused.  It’s one of those things I begin to think about and then look up to see if anyone else’s face reads as puzzled as mine.  We’re bleeding out all over America because we have been asked to pick a corner and fight over a fundamental truth that should be quite obvious.  Life matters immensely.  .

Don’t get me wrong, the issues are real.  There are bad cops.  There are racist people.  There are works of evil all around us all day, every day.  If there is anything anyone can do to shed light on the abuses against innocent victims, I’m all for it.  But, America, let’s at least be ambitious enough to uncover what is at the bottom of our outrage.

All of these thoughts swirled though my subconscious last night at the theater as I watched the movie “Risen.”  It was a fictional story about a Roman soldier who was alive during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  In that time and place, perhaps the hashtag would have read “Jewish lives matter.”  Maybe it would have said “disciples lives matter” or “soldiers lives matter.”  I don’t know for sure but I do know one thing.  Then, as well as now, many people were wrongfully abused, injured, and murdered at the hands of the authorities of both church and state.

 Think about that for a moment.  Let it sink in.  Like the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.

But let’s get back to the movie.  Jesus shows up and he, claiming to be God, does not fight for the value of his own life to be recognized by those who hate him.  He does quite the opposite.  Instead, to those who love him, he teaches his example of self-abasement, humility, and how to consider others better than themselves.  To that end I ask, is that what we are doing, America?  Because it seems like there is a lot of finger pointing going on and none of it ever points inwardly.  We, who want justice, are just as responsible for valuing life as those we are shouting at.  And honestly, our own self is the only person we have the power to change.

As Christians, we should never minimize or ignore the suffering of others.  The truth is that every life was created by God and that is what makes every life intrinsically, immeasurably valuable.  That means nothing can make us more or less valuable.  Not our skin tone, our profession, or our age.  Neither our social status, salary, smarts, or even our sins.

The young black man who is shot by a middle aged white cop is certainly no less valuable than the young white cop who is shot by a middle aged black man.  We, as honest people, see the tragedy of both situations as equally horrific.

When our forefathers wrote that all men were created equal, I do not know what they originally meant.  I do know that the concept of human equality is borrowed capital from the Christian Bible.  What that means is that at the cross, the black man is equal with the white as is the woman with the man; the thief with the philanthropist; the adulterous with the virgin; the drunkard with the sober; the unborn baby with the ninety year-old.

Every life matters to the God who created them all.  He shows no partiality.  None.  If we follow him, every life must matter to us as well.  Anger does not win people and cause them to stop doing evil; believing evil; being evil.  Civil societal wars won’t save the lives being snuffed out daily.  Picking sides will only divide us further.  Instead, we must learn who we are.  We were made in God’s image and that is why we are all to be highly valued by one another.

Your addicted neighbor is valuable.  Pray for him.  The coworker who treats you poorly every day is valuable.  Show her love.  The waitress who got your order wrong is valuable.  Tip her well.  The man who spoke ill of you to everyone you know is valuable.  Forgive him.  The girl who always dresses inappropriately is valuable.  Teach her.  The wealthy man running for president who acts like an utter fool is valuable.  Do not hate him.  The mad black woman shouting about how valuable her life is is right.  Respect her.

It is easy to take up a cause and start shouting.  It is hard to live out a life of love toward fellow sinners day in and day out.  Nevertheless, that is what we must do.  That is the solution.  Love saves lives one at a time.  That is our job.  We must stop letting our differences divide us and pray.  Stop carrying torches and shouting about which lives you prefer and prefer them all in the sphere of your very own life.  Place value on those you least love for the sake of both solidarity and sanctification.  We are all yet students.

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lovejesus

I’ve been thinking on yesterday’s sermon on John 21:15-25 considering why it is that Jesus asked Peter whether he loved him.  Why did he ask so many times?  Aside from the comparison to the thrice denied Christ by Peter, was there another reason for such questioning?  Didn’t Jesus know Peter loved him?  Of course he did. Even Peter said as much. So why?

Jesus’ interrogation was for Peter’s sake.  It was for our sake.  Jesus’ is showing us something about how to love.  He is showing us what the love of God looks like, both by restoring an unlovable failure and by teaching him what love looks like in the face of his failure.

Christ is conveying these truths about how we must love by telling Peter to feed his lambs (twice), tend his sheep, and adding that no one else’s call is relevant to his call which is to simply follow him:

Loving me is other-centered, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a popularity contest, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a power trip Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with pride, Peter Lori.

Loving me is sacrificial service, Peter Lori.

Loving me is willingness to suffer, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with competition and comparison, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with your leading, Peter Lori.

Loving me is following wherever I lead, Peter Lori.

These are the things you failed to understand before.  That is why you fell.

Peter had grief over this interaction.  He had a certain sadness over Jesus’ questioning and doubtless his own culpability and regret.  He still had questions and some residual contest with his contemporaries in this heart.  Still, Peter was changed.  He was humbled.  By the power of God, Peter did follow Christ and change the world through his restored witness.

The grace displayed by God and the gospel toward Peter here is tremendous.  I know because the grace displayed by God and the gospel towards me, too, is tremendous.

I have been a doubter, a denier, an egotist, and a bombastic, just like Peter.  I look back with grief and a certain sadness.  When the Lord reveals the hard parts of his plan, I still pine over senseless questions about fairness and folly sprouting from a sinful nature .  I don’t know about Peter, but my biggest fear is falling away again.  What if my call is that which I find most unfavorable?  What if his love isn’t enough to keep me and what if I don’t really love him the way I think I do; the way I want to; the way he calls me to?

Foolish doubts and fears rooted in distrust and unbelief are silenced by the truth.  I know that he is the sustainer of all things, including my salvation.  I will not fear.

For Peter, martyrdom and death was the fear that caused his betrayal.  Peter’s restoration is proof that perseverance is possible.  He was afraid to die when he denied Christ, but later he died indeed for Christ by the power of God.

The love of God changes people.  It makes the unwilling, willing; the unloving, loving; the prideful, humble; the doubting, trust.  Our hope is found in forgetting our failures, formulas, fears, and trusting him to keep us from falling.  Our hope is found in following Christ wherever he leads.

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