Think about a moment in your life when you experienced regret. You said something or did something that turned out to be wrong; or maybe you missed an opportunity to do something right. Regret-- the longer we live the more likely we are to experience it in our lives.
Peter dealt with his fair share of regret. He wanted to do the right things and say the rights things. Often he got it wrong. When Jesus offered to wash Peter's feet the reply was quick and to the point. "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." (John 13:8, New International Version) Jesus replied, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." (John 13:8) "'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and head as well.'"
After the foot washing experience and prior to the cross, Peter denied knowing Jesus. The denial was clear. Peter communicated, not once, not twice, but three times that he did not know or follow Jesus. Peter's response to his denial of Jesus was overwhelming. Scripture states that he wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74) Certainly, Peter experienced regret because of his actions and missed opportunities.
I am thankful that Peter's story did not end at the foot washing incident or at the cross for that matter. Jesus did not give up on Peter.
After Jesus' resurrection from the grave and before His ascension to heaven, Jesus met Peter on the water's edge and cooked breakfast for him. Jesus asked a tough question. Three times Jesus asked, "Peter, do you truly love me?" Each time, Peter gave an honest reply. "Lord, you know that I love you." (John 21:16) In response, Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
I love the message that Jesus conveyed to Peter. It was a message of hope and restoration. Jesus was letting Peter know that He still had a plan for Peter's life. Jesus wanted Peter to look ahead, not behind. Thankfully, he did.
In the book of Acts, after Jesus went back to heaven, we see a changed Peter. Peter no longer lived for himself. Most importantly, Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Peter did not get stuck in the past. By God's grace, Peter moved beyond regret and lived the full, free abundant life God had for him. Check out Act 15 for the rest of the story. We don't hear a lot about the Jerusalem Council, but it was an important moment in the development of the early church. Who was there leading the way? That is right-- Peter.
For all of us who look back and experience regret over a decision that we made or an opportunity that we missed, we can learn from Peter. Jesus was willing and able to bring beauty out of the ashes of Peter's life and Jesus is willing and able to do the same for us. He does not toss us to the side when we make a mistake. He graciously shows us that we can move beyond regret and embrace God's plans for our lives.
No matter what you have done, today can be a new day for you and your family. God’s grace, love, and forgiveness are available. How about bowing your head, confessing your sinful past, and watching Jesus wash away your regret? One thing is certain, He will replace the regret with an incredible life lesson that will be part of your journey. Right now, you can move beyond regret and experience the love and grace of God as He reminds you that He still has a plan for your life.