Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
-- John 4:13
Playwright Oscar Wilde was right on the money when he noted that experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes. Whether it’s on the job (a missed deadline) or in the home (left the water running in the tub), mistakes can be both costly and painful. But consider the pain when the mistake is made in front of an audience of millions.
In the 1972 Summer Olympics, Finnish runner Lasse Viren tripped and fell during the 10,000-meter race when he tangled his feet with American gold medalist Frank Shorter. That would have been the end of the story for most athletes. But Viren did the unthinkable: he got off the ground, resumed the race and caught the runners who had passed him. And then on the final lap – he not only passed his competitors – he literally left them in the dust and crossed the finish line alone. Many sportswriters consider Viren’s performance to be one of the greatest comebacks in Olympic history.
Maybe your own mistakes aren’t of Olympic proportions. But they might feel like it. After all, how many times have we made such huge mistakes in life that it seemed like the end of the world? We feel like we’ve blown it. It’s over. And we’ll never get back.
Life-changing mistakes can cover a lot of territory. They might affect our personal relationships, careers or even spiritual lives – maybe all of the above. But the good news for Christ-followers is that we worship a God who not only knows what we’re going through, but a God who cares. He’s also a God of second (and third, fourth, etc.) chances.
The apostle Peter learned this lesson when he asked Jesus, "How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?" Jesus answered, “Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!”
If we’re to be so forgiving when others offend us, think how patient God is with us when we make mistake after mistake. And Peter knew a thing or two about making mistakes. In fact, after Jesus was arrested and the apostles had scattered in fear, Peter emphatically denied that he even knew Christ. And not just once – but three times!
Within hours of His arrest, Jesus was tried and convicted on false charges. And then He suffered a horrific, painful death – in our place – through His crucifixion between two common thieves. Crushed by guilt, Peter believed his life was over. If anyone had blown it, it was him. But Christ had other plans for His apostle of little faith. We read early in the Book of Acts that Peter – now filled with the Holy Spirit – boldly defied the same religious authorities who had earlier condemned Jesus to death. So as we search for our own comebacks from failure and pain, let’s take Peter’s testimony about his Master to heart:
“In no one else can salvation be found,” he proclaimed. “For in all the world no other name has been given to men but this, and it is by this name that we must be saved!”