The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, ‘Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.
– Luke 22:61-62
He was hot, and he was cold, but the fisherman named Peter was never lukewarm.
This mercurial disciple of Jesus, whose passion was only matched by his volatility, either walked on water or sank in the waves. This man didn’t tread water. His talent seemed to lie in rocking the boat, not riding out the storms.
He usually said and did exactly the opposite of what was prudent. He was fearful in the storm while the Master was at rest and slept in the garden of Gethsemane while Jesus agonized. His intentions were good, but his impetuous actions ultimately caused him much grief.
But God loved him.
On the evening of Christ’s arrest, Peter swore to follow Jesus to prison and the grave. Only a few hours later, he denied even being His follower. He learned the hard way rash words can’t be taken back. One look from his Master pierced him through with the knowledge of what he had done.
I know that look because I’ve denied Jesus many more times than Peter’s mere three. I may not say the actual words, but through my thoughtless actions and words, I hurt God.
I see His pain in the eyes of people I have wounded. I feel His gentle reproach in my own grief at my failings. I relive my sins over and over, awash in regret.
And yet, God loves me.
The passion of the disciple, once redeemed, propelled him toward a powerful ministry. He was priviledged to witness the resurrected Christ. He became a pillar of the early church, and he eventually fulfilled his vow to follow his Master to prison and death.
I believe that every time Peter heard a rooster crow, he was reminded of that awful moment he looked into the wounded eyes of Jesus.
The memory of his failure surely cemented his resolve to serve his Savior with his whole heart.
Can we live a life without regret? Probably not, because we all fail God in some way. But as Peter discovered, regret can be a powerful reminder of how much it hurts to sin. It can be a potent force to encourage us to seek out redemption and restoration. Grace is reserved, after all, for the undeserving.
Because God loves us, He still seeks us out in our darkest night and reminds us we are His.