November 2014, Prismacolor pencils on A3 cartridge paper
This picture is based on John 21:15-17 where Peter meets Jesus after he denied him three times.
When I make a mistake, I can think I’m no good. I can think it would be better if I stopped following God because to keep going would mean hurting people and letting them down. My heart still wants to serve but I fear the chaos I’d leave behind. I can also fear that God doesn’t love me anymore, that I’m no longer useful to him, and I should just give up.
When Peter made a mistake and betrayed his friend, I imagine he would have wondered if Jesus still loved him. I would think the first question he’d ask Jesus would be, ‘Do you still love me?’ But before Peter can ask, Jesus asks him, ‘Do you love me?’ three times. This tells me his question is the more important one.
In a way, Jesus’ question is the only one that matters because the answer to Peter’s unspoken question is already known and will never change. Yes, Jesus loves us. He always has and always will. No mistake we make will ever change that.
This means I never have to ask, ‘Do you love me, God?’
The real question is: Do I love God? Because if I do, then it doesn’t matter how many mistakes I make or how big they are; I am always loved and I am always useful to God. So instead of lying in a heap feeling sorry for myself, God tells me to get up and keep on going because there is work to be done. There are sheep to feed. There are people who need me to keep going and keep learning how to love.
Sometimes I’ll make mistakes, hurt people, and let them down. But this is part of what it means to be a disciple; I’m learning how to follow God. In the bible, the disciples made lots of mistakes. This encourages me because it tells me mistakes never mean God doesn’t love me and they don’t change the work he has for me.
Mistakes are never a reason to give up.