This is what I tweeted straight after church today – and now for the full story! Because it was really wonderful!
So, where to start… Ok, maybe I’ll start with what today is… It’s a few different things: it’s 9 April, which is the anniversary of something bad I did a long time ago; it’s also Palm Sunday and also my Hebrew birthday, which makes it the double anniversary of something else… and there’s a connection between both of those events and a guy called Peter, from the Bible – a guy I’ve often felt I could relate to… We have this thing in common, me and Peter: we’re a bit impetuous, we’re quick to open our big mouth and speak without thinking, and to make promises we won’t be able to keep… Which is what I did on Palm Sunday back in 1990, which also fell on my Hebrew birthday that year…
That day I stood in a church in London and made a public commitment to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.
And on the very next day, which was 9 April, I let Jesus down big time.
And today’s sermon was God’s chance to graciously reassure me: he knew I was going to do that – but just like Peter, my story didn’t end there, because Jesus is bigger than our failures. Forgiving and restoring sinful humans is what he specialises in!
Peter, in case you don’t know, promised Jesus that he’d stand by him no matter what, only to completely chicken out when the going got tough, and completely deny that he knew him at all.
Me? I said I wanted to follow Jesus – and I meant it… But there was a scary situation I was facing, and instead of trusting God to get me through it, I chickened out and lied my way out of the scary situation. I knew it was wrong, and I was painfully aware of how incongruous the timing was – that I was doing this just one day after that ceremony in church… But I went ahead and did it anyway.
But God didn’t give up on me. He very patiently kept teaching me and guiding me over the years, gradually teaching me to trust him more and more, until eventually I got to the point of really giving my life to Jesus and being reborn.
Not that I don’t still let him down sometimes – just a bit less spectacularly than I did back then…
But the bottom line is that no matter how many times or how badly I let him down, Jesus is never ever going to give up on me! Halleluiah!