“God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (Romans 11:29, NLT).
God calls you. He draws you. One day in response to persistent prayer, you realize what God wishes from your life. The realization of His will initially frightens you, but then apprehension finally gives way to surrender. With surrender anticipation builds. You live your purpose with fervent desire. You serve the Lord unquestionably, and believe that what you offer makes a difference. You experience the joy and fulfillment of knowing you are in the Lord's will. But in the midst of the joy of service you unexpectedly deny something that calls for a deeper level of commitment. You discover that you have suddenly failed Him. In guilt and grief you question your worth.
“Lord,” you cry, “what should I do?”
“Do you love me?” He asks. The unanticipated question strikes hard. You might be Peter on the shore, leaning over a bed of glowing embers, warming his cold hands, and remembering another coal fire where he had failed Jesus.
“Yes, Lord,” you manage to respond. “You know I love you.”
He repeats the question two more times, and each time you answer, you are abruptly aware of your failure. The Lord gently lifts your trembling chin to peer into eyes that also once burned into Peter’s. It is at this moment your failure is gone, and you, lost in His gaze, know you are forgiven. “If you love me,” He says, “then feed my sheep.”
His words are a statement to the fact that you have been called. Lovingly the Lord has brought you to your place of denial—your place of failure, and then called for your sacrificial best so that you might understand that your worth is not defined by your failure but is found in the humility of your heart. What is the actual price of your sacrificial best? Being sold out to the Master means that no price is too high to feed His sheep. You rise from the misplaced altar of your coal fire, and you choose to make Him your altar. He is your focus now, and not your failure.
Never allow failure to hinder you, but to humble you. Continue to share Christ’s message, His heart, and His love. Learn from your failure, and move on. Remember that “feeding the sheep” is not about you. It is about loving Him. Leave the failure of your denial, just as Peter did, and rise once more to His calling.