MARK14:69-72: “When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Have you ever failed God? I am not talking about disobeying one of the commandments, or even having a lapse of faith. I am speaking of a major event in your life when you failed your heart’s most precious commitment to the Lord. This is the type of failure that Peter was facing as the rooster crowed the second time.
When Jesus told his disciples about His coming arrest, and their impending desertion, Peter made a bold proclamation and promise to the Lord.
- “…Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.” Mark 14:27-31 NLT
Peter meant what he was saying. He had committed his life to Jesus, left his fishing boats, and followed Him with all his heart and soul. When Jesus walked on the water, it was Peter who took a step of faith and walked on the water toward Jesus (this took courage!). Peter had taken a sword to the garden. He was prepared to defend and even to die for Jesus. Even if everyone else ran away, Peter promised the Lord that he would not.
Yet, we know how the story ended. Peter would soon face a major failure. He would be confronted with his weakness and inability to fulfill his promise to Jesus. Peter not only awkwardly failed to protect Jesus with a sword, he also ran from the garden when Jesus was arrested. Then Peter kept his distance from Jesus while He was being tried by the Jewish Council. And finally, when he was put on the spot about being one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter denied it, three times. Peter even denied it under the threat of a curse!
Jesus had prepared Peter for his failure by warning him beforehand. However, like Peter, none of us wants to believe that we could fall so hard. That is, until it happens – until we hear the second rooster crow.
I will never forget the day I heard “my” second rooster crow.
I was 35 years old and pastoring a growing church. I felt that the future ahead was filled with bright promise. In fact, I felt that I had a plan for the rest of my life and ministry. However, in my zeal, I was blinded to my own weaknesses. In all of my zeal to serve the Lord, I was neglecting my wife and my marriage. Over 5 years of working so hard to serve the church, I lost touch with my wife. And then it happened. Our marriage was in crisis. I was faced with a decision. It was the ministry or my marriage. I resigned as pastor, and began the long journey of rebuilding my life, repenting of my neglect, and trusting the Lord to rebuild the love and trust my wife and I once shared.
This was no easy task. And in the midst of it all I felt that I had failed God to such a degree that I was discarded. Rest assured, there were some who helped to foster this feeling. However, most of my struggle came from within. I had made such bold statements, such heartfelt commitments, and had shared these with others. And then…the second rooster crowed. Wounded, feeling like a failure, like Peter – I broke down and wept.
How could the Lord used such a broken vessel?
For over 14 years my wife and I rebuilt our lives. We continued to serve the Lord. I would get to speak every so often, or teach a class. My goal was no longer the “ministry”, but it was my relationship with the Lord, and with my wife. During this time, after 18 years of marriage, we had our very first child. It was as if the Lord was speaking to us through this wonderful life. Our daughter, who was an answer to my wife’s prayer, was God’s proclamation that He had not forgotten us. It was the tangible confirmation that His love was restoring us, and that His purposes would be fulfilled in us. Like Peter at the seashore, after Christ’s resurrection, I too heard Jesus say;
- “…Simon son of John (Kirk) , do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter (I) said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John (Kirk), do you love me?” Peter (I) was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He (I) said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17 NLT
After 14 years in the wilderness, learning to trust the Lord, and learning to love my wife and family like Christ loved the church, the Lord gave me an opportunity to “…feed His sheep.” He allowed me 15 wonderful years as the founding pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford. We started out as a rag tagged group of Peters, all who had felt that we disappointed the Lord beyond repair. And yet, one by one, God restored us. He built a wonderful church family, He restored gifts and ministries, He opened doors of outreach and missions, and He saved marriages, families, and lives. He spoke to each one of us – “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep!” We became a church, a family, restored by His love!
There is no failure, no disappointment, no sin that is outside the reach of the grace and mercy of God. The enemy would keep us hearing the second rooster crowing – over, and over, and over again. Yet, if we listen carefully we will hear the sound of the voice of Jesus. He is calling us to be restored in His love. He is healing the wounded heart, restoring the broken in spirit, and giving fresh vision for our hearts and lives. We have a choice to make. It is simply this. Which voice will I listen to? Will I continue to rehearse the memories of my failures, or will I run to Jesus to be healed?
- “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:12-15a NLT
Lord, today I choose to run to you. Today I choose to enter into the throne room boldly through the blood of Jesus Christ. Today I choose to receive grace and mercy, and to be healed. Today I choose to be restored in Your love!
In Jesus Name!
P.S. Today is my wife Karen’s birthday. She is the love of my life for over 42 years. She is the mother of the most wonderful gift I have ever received, my daughter Hannah. She is now my partner in life and ministry. She is my inspiration, my best friend, and the kindest and most gracious person I know. Happy Birthday Karen. Thank you for hanging in there with me all these years and for believing in me. I am so blessed to do life with you!