Do you ever look back and wish you had done things differently? Have you ever wished that there really was such a thing as a time machine – something you could crawl into and go back in time so as to undo some major mistake you made? Ever wish you could go back and tell your younger self not to say something, or not to do something because you know that you will regret it later?
In the course of history, there are many people who have done things that they later regretted. Just a few months ago I became aware of a man named James Caldemeyer. I did not know this, but apparently there is a good living to be had as a professional sport fisherman. Caldemeyer is one of these professional sport fishermen. He serves as a fishing guide on a lake down in Texas and competes in bass fishing tournaments around the country.
What many people are not aware of is that years ago Caldemeyer was involved in car accident that resulted in the death of the other driver. Caldemeyer was drunk and crossed the center line of the road and hit the other vehicle head on. He was charged, convicted and spent time in prison.
In addition to costing the life of another human being he talks of losing his job, his wife and family. His mistake cost him. We may debate if his penalty was sufficient. I, for one, in no way desire to try and justify his actions or his punishment. But what followed I do believe is amazing. With the guilt, anguish, and hurt overwhelming, Caldemeyer struggled to live. Yet in his darkest hours he found God waiting for him and it was in Him that he found mercy and grace, such that on his release he was able to live as a new man.
Caldemeyer was not the first. There was also a guy named Peter who messed up pretty good. If we look at the book of Luke in the 22nd chapter, we learn about how Jesus was arrested and was subject to all kinds of mockery and physical abuse. In the midst of it all, Peter, who was one of Jesus closest friends, was challenged as to his connection with Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus. He denied knowing Jesus not just once but three times all in less than a twelve hour stretch. Now we may not put the denial of friendship on the same scale as vehicular homicide, but for Peter this was devastating. We have to understand on the one side that to be a disciple of Jesus would make Peter an accomplice to all the charges that were laid. So denial was at least an act of cowardice. Add to this, the fact that to be a Christian, is to embrace the identity of Jesus, forsake our old way of life, and choose to boldly follow Him and identify with Him. We sometimes hear it said that to be a Christian, we need to invite Jesus into our life. This being the case, for Peter to deny knowing, Jesus, has all kinds of implications.
When Peter realized what he had done, he wept with such a better sorrow. The guilt of what he had done was overwhelming. But like with Caldemeyer, Peter found grace and mercy. In fact, before all this even happened, Jesus predicted it. Not only did he predict it, but he made a request. His request being that when Peter finally realized his guilt, that he would turn back and do what he could to encourage others who were followers of Jesus. What a gift from Jesus. Peter was given a clear assurance that nothing he could do was beyond forgiving.
Wow! What a powerful thought: to think that when we mess up no matter what it is that we have done, Jesus is there waiting for us to come to our senses and admit our mistakes. But then even more, that having forgiven us, he can still use us. That despite whatever it is that we may have done, we are never beyond his ability to forgive.
I don’t know about you, but that is very encouraging to know that regardless of what is in my past, God is willing and able to forgive me. All I need to do is admit my failure. Wherever you are right now, why not give it a try? Admit to God your failures. Talk to Him. Ask Him for forgiveness. He is waiting, and He is able.