Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions and Restoration

The new year is finally here. Many people will have made resolutions about what they plan to do as they start out this year with a clean slate. But how many times have we made resolutions with great intentions and then end up not being able to follow through? I, for one, have done this year after year. I always have great plans but they just never seem to work out the way I would like. I try really hard, but ultimately fail. Today as I was thinking about failure, I was reminded as I read John 21 that no matter how many times I fail, that Jesus is always ready to take me back with open arms. He never chastises me or berates me for my failures, but just lovingly embraces me with his gentleness and understanding.

He knows me better than anyone and knows that my plans aren't always in line with His plans. Try as I might, I can't always succeed at the things I set out to do. Most importantly, I find myself grieved at the many times I set out to do "something good for God" only to find that I fail miserably.

In John 21, Jesus has just recently risen from the dead. The disciples have finally grasped the fact that He is who He said He is and they slowly come to terms with that in their own individual ways. Jesus gently and lovingly allows them to let it "sink in" and then He takes them further. He is especially  concerned with Peter. You may remember that Peter was the one on which Jesus said He would build His church before He was crucified. You may also remember that Peter was the one who denied he ever knew Christ when he was captured and about to be crucified. It is very important that now Jesus focuses special attention on Peter as He asks him a very important question..."Peter do you love me?" Peter must have been dumbfounded when Christ asked him this and he responds "Lord, you know I love you." He knew that Jesus knows everything because He is God. But then Jesus takes it a step further and asks Peter again...do you love me and when He asks this time, He gives Peter a command to feed his sheep. The conversations continues and after three times of being asked whether or not he loves Jesus, Peter becomes disheartened and grieved.

I think that Jesus specifically asked Peter three times if he loved Him in a counter to the three times Peter denied Him. I think that Jesus wanted to see that Peter was restored and completely understood that no matter how many times he failed Christ, that He would always be willing to accept Peter back into His loving arms.

Isn't it comforting to know that no matter how many times we fail, that Jesus will lift us up and restore us? He doesn't chide us and berate us for our failings. He knows we're human and we will fail. He knows that we have good intentions but that sometimes we can't live up to those plans. The main thing that Jesus wants from us isn't our good intentions...it's our love.

Instead of making resolutions for the new year, why not refocus yourself and make the main thing the main thing...set out to recommit your love to Christ this year. Seek to put Him first in all you do and to be obedient to His will for your life. In doing so, even if your plans fail, you will find yourself wrapped in the unconditional love of our Savior. You'll understand that no matter how many times you fall down that He will be there to pick you up and restore you. He doesn't care about our good intentions. He only wants the best for us and His best is for us to understand and accept His love. That's pretty simple isn't it? There isn't much pressure in that is there?

This year, don't make plans that you won't be able to keep. Despite your intentions for doing good, you'll ultimately fail because we all do. We're human and we WILL fail. Set your heart and mind on what matters most...just rest in and trust in His love for you. He's waiting with open arms....it's a new year after all...what have you got to lose?

You can read John 21:15-19 here http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+21%3A15-19&version=NLT

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