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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How do I forgive myself? [2]

Peter has previously promised Jesus that he would never betray him. Yet, when things got uncomfortable for Peter, and deadly for Christ, he denied him three times. Peter is now beating himself up over his lack of resolve, and is headed out to return to his former life, since he feels he has been a failure at this. We see the two of them meet again after the crucufixion. [Text: John 21:1-19]

What does the scripture say to us that will help us finally get past those things that are keeping us chained to and in our past?

Jesus wasn’t really far from Peter, although he thought he was. In fact that day on the beach, Jesus invited Peter and the other disciples join him for breakfast. He said, “come and have breakfast and bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Jesus took the initiative to specifically invite Peter to breakfast. This invitation is often overlooked when we read this passage. 

We don’t hear Jesus say to us, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

We miss it because we are so busy struggling and beating ourselves up over past events. We are still trapped in our guilt. Jesus is saying, “Come to breakfast. Bring some of the fish you’ve caught. You are included.”
We all want to be included, but we have a hard time breaking through our own stumbling blocks.
Jesus says, “Come on. Don’t just sit there. Let’s enjoy the morning.” And, we, along with Peter are thinking, but Lord, I’m don't deserve it. I can’t move beyond what I have done in the past. I can’t get over it.”

Jesus keeps waving us in and saying, “You’re invited. Come on.”

We all know what Peter is thinking. "Should I risk it?" "What if Jesus didn’t REALLY mean it. What if I SCREW UP again? What if I MESS UP and say the wrong things, again? Peter might have been a little apprehensive about accepting the invitation, because he thinks he has been disqualified. In fact, he thinks he has disqualified himself!
The biggest obstacle to self-forgiveness may be our predisposition to wallow in our own guilt. It’s not enough that we feel bad about something we know we have done wrong; but we draw those feelings up around us like a blanket and cover our heads.
We refuse to push the stop button of that self-defeating tape we keep replaying in our heads.
According to psychologists when we refuse to forgive ourselves it’s a “crazy form of penance.” Many people decide to punish themselves for the rest of their lives by feeling miserable day after day. The decision to feel miserable for the rest of our lives can have tragic consequences on us as well as the bad effects on those around us.
Certainly, Peter could have refused the invitation to breakfast. He could have said, “I’m going to stay right here. I’m not going to risk it.” But he didn’t. I think we all have a little Peter in us.
All too often, we speak hastily, putting our foot in our collective mouths, striking out before we think things through, stumbling through life.
But, in this area we need to be a lot more like him...a risk taker. See what happens. After all Jesus said, "Come on over for breakfast." It was after all, Jesus' idea.
The disciples took the bread and the fish that Jesus gave to them. It was what they all needed that day--not just Peter. He always offers us exactly what we need in our current situation. He had a special job for Peter to do and Peter wasn’t doing it. Peter had to get it together and move on. It was time to start making some forward progress. He needed to get unstuck from all of the barriers that were holding him back.
We need to deal with our past by experiencing the forgiveness that Jesus brought to us on the cross. But we also need to understand that his grace is enough to cover forgiving ourselves as well. It is a part of the package.


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