If you’re like me, at one point or another in your life you have felt quite guilty about something, ashamed and full of regret. Our first instinct is to curl up into a little ball and block out the world. Or drink. Or mentally beat ourselves up, figuring, “no one could love a person like me, especially God.” My friend, such hopelessness can lead to despair.
Know that you are not the first to doubt God’s mercy, nor will you be the last. You can use my story as a modern-day example, but more compelling is the story of Peter the Apostle. Unlike me, this man walked with Jesus day in and day out, witnessing miracles firsthand. Peter even performed his own miracles through the Holy Spirit. The only miracle you’ll see me perform is getting my kids to the bus stop on time.
Although Peter had the privilege of knowing Jesus in the flesh, Peter denied Him when it mattered the most. You think you’ve screwed somewhere along the line in life and are now feeling guilty for it? Try denying to His enemies the one man you could count on, who stood by your side through thick and thin. Your mentor. Your provider. Your shoulder to lean on.
And then Jesus – the man Peter considered a friend, a true friend – died at the hands of His enemies. Publicly and violently. It was awful.
After Jesus’ death, Peter’s guilt was overwhelming. To make matters worse, he doubted Jesus’ love, forgiveness and unending capacity for mercy. Watch this:
Peter’s story comforts me; if he can be forgiven through Jesus Christ, so can I. The account should reassure us all that even though we are nowhere near perfection, with repentance we are not beyond God’s grace.
The story mentioned in this clip is called The Parable of the Lost Son. It’s a great story about how the son of a business man asked for his inheritance before due time. After receiving it, the son left his father’s home. He spent every last cent and wound up poor, yearning for a scrap of food he was feeding to the pigs of his new employer. It was at this lowest point in his life that the son thought, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death” (Luke 15:17)! Figuring his father wouldn’t call him son anymore, but perhaps hire him as a worker of the household, he headed home with his head hung low, shoulders slumped. All the while, the father had been watching the horizon. At the first glimpse of his son’s outline far off in the distance, the father ran out to meet him. He was, “filled with compassion for him; …threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). All that mattered to the father was that his son was home; his sins were forgiven. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24).
The Parable of the Lost Son is recorded in the bible to bring comfort to those who read it. God is compassionate and merciful. Just as you may consider the relationship with your earthly father, God loves you, regardless of what you have done. His arms are open. All you have to do is come home.