Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 6, 2014

your next chapter

As someone who depends on his phone for both work and pleasure, I must admit that cell phones have been a source of great irritation to me. Several years ago, I dropped (and lost) a phone on Park Avenue in New York City (My daughter was thoroughly amused that I thought I could go back and retrieve it!). Once, I left my phone at an airport in Chattanooga at 4:30 in the morning. I have dropped a cell phone in water (it died), called people countless times without knowing it, and even had a phone die on a trip, at completely the wrong time. I can’t figure out how I can Google, listen to music, check email and talk with a lady name Siri on such a small device.  You may think I’m a cell phone failure, but there is hope (I’ve stopped talking back to Siri)! Yesterday morning, I read and considered another failure. You may have heard of him … His name is Peter.

Often, when reading Matthew chapter twenty-six, the garden of Gethsemane takes center stage. With good reason! Peter’s life is woven among the verses, and not in a flattering way. His weakness abounds and resounds. Talk about failure! Take a glimpse at how bad this chapter was for him.

Matthew 26

…Peter declared that he would never disown Christ.

…Peter and two other disciples were sleeping during a critical time for Christ in Gethsemane.

…When Christ was arrested, Peter reacted with a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus.

…He and the other disciples deserted Christ.

…Before the rooster crowed the morning after his bold declaration, Peter had denied Christ three times.

Matthew 26:75 (MSG)
Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.

Talk about a failure!

Thank goodness Peter’s story did not end with chapter twenty-six. He was restored and used of Christ to dramatically impact the world. Peter preached and 3,000 were saved at Pentecost. God used Peter to open the door of the gospel to the Gentiles. He wrote two epistles in the New Testament. Church history records that he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified as His Savior was. On one hand, we see his incredible failure. But then we are blessed to see how God can forgive, restore and use someone who is fully devoted to Him.

You may not be as brash as Peter, or as cell phone challenged as me, but I am sure you struggle with failure. Repeatedly, you are reminded of your weaknesses. You may even have some “twenty-six” type chapters in your life. Whether our failures are public or private, they can cause us to lose effectiveness for the Savior. I am here to tell you that God can handle your weakness and failures, and can use them for His good and your growth. Peter could have just pulled back or run away after denying Christ. But for the cause of Christ, and because of God’s incredible grace and love, Peter’s story ended well. No matter how deep and numerous our failures are, our story can end well too.

Tomorrow, next month, and next year, I’ll have some cell phone frustrations. Failure will be part of the story we all write. But it should never be the end of the story. Peter’s life moved beyond chapter twenty-six. Whatever holds you back from effectiveness for Christ can be overcome. Determine that your next chapter will be filled with growing deeper in love with the Father, and with others.

Confess, submit and then live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness, grace and love!

By the way, I wonder what Peter would have done with a cell phone?!


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