Tuesday, December 27, 2011
How do I forgive myself? 
We often speak about the need to forgive others. Through this act of forgiveness, we accomplish two things. First, we free ourselves of the burden of carrying extra unnecessary weight around, And, second, we release those people to get on with their own lives.
We are cautioned and chastened to pray for those who hurt us. And, while we cannot know for sure that this will change them, it does change us. But I am not talking about prayer right now. I want to talk about forgiving the person we tend to be hardest on...ourselves.
Text: John 21:1-19
Today’s scripture directs our attention to one of the people who Jesus had called to be a "fisher of people", Peter. We all know Peter pretty well. He got off track lots of times. He was constantly blurting out things without thinking. He frequently took hasty actions which he regretted later.
But, his worst offense was that he denied Christ, three times. He had promised Christ that he would never do such a dishonorable thing, but he did. Afterward, he was pretty sure that he was disqualified from ever doing the Lord’s work again.
At the beginning of this chapter, we find Peter saying, “I’m going fishing.” He was really saying, “What is there left for me but to go back to my old job. I’ve got to do something. I have been an absolute failure to the Lord. I feel guilty about it, and I don't see how I can ever forgive myself.”
He wanders off with the weight of guilt hanging heavily on his shoulders, believing that his only option is to back to his old job. He struggles with where to go from here? What does he do now? He blames himself over and over for buckling under. There is nothing to be done about it now.
He has probably replayed the tape over and over from the time he denied Christ, but it doesn't change. He could not forgive himself and was certain that the Lord would not either. It all just seemed too impossible.
Often in our lives, there are particular incidents that we look back at, and we want to punish ourselves again and again, just like Peter did. It seems impossible to overcome; impossible to get past it.
What can this scripture say to us that will help us finally get past the things that are keeping us chained to and in the past?