These days kinda find us out on the porch a lot, as our new little daughter loves outside and sunshine the best — and Sharon Jaynes is a fellow porch-sitter who communes with God with coffee in her hand, a well-worn Bible in her lap, and gentle breezes blowing over the lake of her country home. She loves nothing more than making Scripture come alive for fellow travelers and linking arms with women all around the world through the written and spoken word. It’s an absolute grace to welcome Sharon to the farm’s front porch today…
I sat on my back porch, wrapped in my fuzzy worn robe—the one that’s twenty years old but I just can’t seem to get rid of.
The birch tree leaves shivered in the cool morning crispness and the gerbera daisies that had been sleeping beneath the soil through the winter months, stretched their faces to the sun . . . just a bit higher than the day before.
Then I heard him. The rooster.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I’m not sure where he lives, but it’s within earshot.
ER-er-ER-er-ERRRR. I thought of Peter. I thought of me. I thought of you.
You know the story. At the dinner table, on the night before Jesus went to the cross, He had a chat with his friend Peter.
He referred to Peter in his pre-disciple-days name—Simon.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Don’t you know Jesus thought…sure you are, buddy?
“I tell you, Peter,” Jesus said, “before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
A few hours later, Peter did just that. Denied that he even knew Jesus. Three times. And then the rooster crowed. ER-er-ER-er ERRRR.
And Peter went outside and wept bitterly. He cried and cried and cried.
The next morning, the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered his failure.
And the next morning the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered his failure.
And the next, and the next, and the next.
With every cock-a-doodle-doo came a fresh reminder. First thing in the morning.
Have you ever been there? I have.
I have failed. I have cried and cried and cried. I have remembered.
Shame has poked drain holes in my Spirit-filled confidence and I have hidden behind the wall with Peter…behind the bush with Eve.
And even though I had asked God to forgive me, and I knew that He had, the rooster still crowed in my heart, and I remembered my failure all over again.
Like a trapeze artist who takes hold of the second bar, but refuses to let go of the first, I have hung—dangling over “life to the full.”
Not quite letting go of the life that’s “less than” in order to soar fully and free as God intended.
And God calls to me… Let go. Move forward. Live bold. It’s the only way.
And Paul tells me how… Here’s what I do… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Forgetting what lies behind and reaching for what lies ahead… (Philippians 3:12,13)
And I see it clearly. For me and for you.
When we finally take hold of, grasp, and make our own all that Jesus has already taken hold of for us and placed in us, we begin to experience life to the full—the faith we’ve always longed for.
But taking hold is not enough. We’ve got to let go.
Let go of shame-filled ponderings and and take hold of grace-filled pardon.
Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.
Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.
Let go of preoccupation with self-doubt and take hold of God’s power-filled promises.
Let go of comparison and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.
Let go of the lies that hold you hostage and take hold of the truth that sets you free.
Let go of paralyzing doubt and take hold of fleet-footed faith that’s ready to dance to the daring rhythm of God’s drum.
I get excited thinking about it — and I’m ready.
God has placed lavish promises in the safety deposit box of my heart and fashioned a cross-shaped key just for me…just for you.
And letting go of shame and taking hold of grace is where it all begins.
What did Jesus have to say about Peter’s failure? Three strikes, you’re out? Not hardly.
After his resurrection, Jesus pulled Peter aside…“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus removed the shroud of shame hanging from Peter’s guilt weary shoulders, and called him to get back to the ministry to which he was called. And He does the same for me and for you.
Take hold of grace.
But the rooster still crows.
The question is, what will we remember when it does?
Not the sin…but the grace.
Oh friend, don’t let the enemy accuse you of what God has already forgiven you of? Don’t let him fool you into thinking that the cross was not enough.
Take hold of what Jesus has already taken hold of for you.
And He asks…“Daughter, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I do.”
Feed my sheep.
Sharon Jaynes has penned a passel of books and loves linking arms with women all around the world through the written and spoken word. In her brand new book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For she reveals the most common reasons we get stuck in a mediocre faith. By sitting fireside with Moses at the burning bush and looking at his four arguments with God, you’ll discover how to let go of all that holds you hostage to a life that’s less than what God intended, move forward into life to the full that Jesus promised, and live bold with mountain moving faith that is filled with expectancy. A liberating read to turn to again and again. To learn more about Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold, visit www.takeholdthebook.com.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker Publishing for their partnership in today’s devotion ]