I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s post is from author and leading podcast host Jamie Ivey, whose book If You Only Knew launches January 30.
Everyone has moments in their past that they aren’t proud of, whether they are leaders or followers, young or old. We see it throughout Scripture. Even the most heroic of characters pursue sin that leads to a path of destruction from time to time, and we know because of the truth of Scripture that only Jesus avoided the failure that our human folly brings.
I’m no different, and I’d imagine that you could say the same. And I feel the sting of what some call “imposter syndrome” every time I get to speak to women about the Lord. “Who am I to get to do this? Who am I to be the vessel the Lord uses for this purpose? If they only knew where I’ve been, they wouldn’t listen. If they only knew the depths of the darkness of my heart years ago and how I struggle every day to follow Him well, failing often.”
Have you been there?
Our family was recently reading one of the passages in the Gospels where Peter denied Jesus three times on the eve of His crucifixion. As we were reading, I couldn’t help but think back to how my own life had once been such a denial of Him. On the outside, I acted like I knew Him and loved Him, but on the inside, I was living purely for my own self—definitely not following Jesus.
But it brought to mind another story, one that followed a few weeks later in Peter’s life, after Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and before He ascended into heaven to be with God the Father. Peter and some of the others had been up before dawn, out on their fishing boat, catching nothing but the wind in their sails. Yet at daybreak, Jesus had called to them from the shoreline, telling them to try casting their nets again, that they might just catch some fish this time. And, boy, did they ever.
At the sight of this miracle, Peter dived right into the water and swam directly to Jesus, who was waiting for them around a charcoal fire, with fish and bread roasting for breakfast in the early-morning light. Does it sound like Jesus was there to berate him? To shame him? To fuel his sense of regret?
No, Jesus had already paid Peter’s debt—and your debt, and my debt—days earlier when He died on the cross and then rose from the dead. He’d forgiven Peter for denying Him, same as He’s forgiven me for denying Him too.
I don’t know where I’m catching you today. I don’t know if you started following Jesus as a kid and sort of wandered away from Him. I don’t know if you’re even now still trying to straddle the two boats of a double life. Perhaps you’re lashed with regret with no real idea for how to get past it.
All I really know is that He started pursuing us long before we were interested in running after Him. And no matter our role, status, or title, it is only through receiving Christ’s righteousness and being given a new heart by God’s grace that anything good could ever come out of me and out of you.
And that’s what makes our stories, even the hard ones, worth telling.